NC Blushes As Advani Reveals His K-card

6 April 2008
The Indian Express

New Delhi: A couple of revelations by BJP leader L K Advani have gained him some unexpected support in Kashmir in the form of the ruling Congress-People’s Democratic Party combine and the hardline separatists. Related Stories Taking political wars to printPolitics here is spelt with a capital ‘C’Absent Basu makes presence felt at meetTheatre nears end but Marathi cinema at peakRaj likely to revive his anti-migrants tirade with vigour Ad Links President of India Defence Minister Sonia Gandhi In his book, My Country, My Life, Advani revealed that the National Conference preferred staying in power to pursuing its demand for greater autonomy to the state. He also revealed that the moderate faction of the Hurriyat, which held talks with the Centre on Kashmir during the NDA regime, was clearly told beforehand that all talks would be held within the ambit of Indian Constitution-and they had agreed to it. Though National Conference patron and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq have denied Advani’s revelations as a “bundle of lies”, politicians of the ruling coalition and the hardliners in the Valley are latching on to every word of the revelations. “This has exposed the real face of the National Conference, especially the Abdullahs,” said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. Local BJP leaders are also going after the Abdullahs, saying the people will call the National Conference’s bluff during the Assembly polls, which are due to be held later this year. While it is difficult to predict what impact Advani’s disclosure will have during the polls, one thing is certain: the National Conference will have to take a hard posture to retain its hold on Kashmir constituency. Political observers say the NC could now even espouse the cause of separatists. Already, Farooq Abdullah and NC president Omar Abdullah have started expressing their willingness to support any other proposal that is better than their autonomy demand. The National Conference has also intensified its counter-attack against the BJP and the PDP. Accusing the PDP of being Advani’s creation, Farooq criticised the BJP for not being sincere about solving the Kashmir issue. NC leaders refuted Advani’s revelations by pointing out that they had prepared the autonomy report and passed it in the Legislative Assembly. But the NDA government, they said, rejected the report without even going through it. Even then, the party did not abandon its demand for autonomy, they pointed out. Political observers say soon after the NC came to power in 1996, it constituted the autonomy commission based on then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s promise of “anything short of azadi to the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. However, by the time autonomy report was prepared, the NDA came to power at the Centre. The Mirwaiz too denied Advani’s claims. “We talked only about the Kashmir issue and there was no mention of the Indian Constitution,' Mirwaiz said recently. Another fallout of Advani’s revelations could be that the Kashmiri separatists may now think twice before participating in any future dialogue with the Centre on Kashmir.