THE FALL GUY?
A day after he was shown the door from the party posts, National Conferenceís firebrand leader Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal spoke exclusively to Greater Kashmir team Javaid Malik, Muddasir Ali and Moazum Muhammad at his residence Friday talking about a range of issues including his ďunceremonious exitĒ after holding the positions of Additional General Secretary and Chief Spokesman for a brief but eventful stint.
Q. Did you pay the price for uttering remarks about Rahul Gandhi?
Kamaal: I have made it very clear that as far as presidentís decision is concerned he was very much upset about what I had spoken about Congress and also Rahul Gandhi. He (Gandhi) is a big a leader but he has no role in running the government in Jammu and Kashmir. Mechanism has been put in place to iron out differences that may come up in the coalition from time to time. There is a coordination committee headed by Soz, so where does the role of Rahul ji come. He has to manage the party, he can guide his party. Running the government is the responsibility of the elected Chief Minister. I donít think there was anything wrong in my statement. Should governments of states be run from New Delhi? I said he is the general secretary of All India Congress Committee and he has to run his party. I donít see any role of Rahul Gandhiji in running the government, making the government is different. He has a role in making the government. Tomorrow he can take the Chief Minister into confidence and have his entire team of Congress replaced by new faces. That much he can do but that doesnít mean that he has any role in running the government here like we donít have any role in running the government in Delhi.
Q. Do you now regret reacting to Sozís statement?
Kamaal: Perhaps Rahul Gandhi should not have been touched. I never thought it is so sensitive an issue. I should not have said it, but I believe there should not have been such a violent reaction. It is an exaggerated reaction totally and out of tune. I have named Rahul Gandhiís grandmother and Jawahar Lal Nehru on many occasions but that has not hurt them. I have never seen partyís leadership so sensitive to such issues. I have not spoken against Rahul Gandhi or Congress. The statement asking me to quit the party posts came in the backdrop of Soz saying that Rahulji is not happy with the functioning of the government here. I reacted to what Soz Sahib had said. I donít believe there was anything wrong in it. I reacted to which I thought was absolutely wrong. He (Soz) was projecting Rahul Gandhi wrongly. He (Rahul) was being projected as somebody who is interfering in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir state government. I had to rebut that. I am hundred percent sure that he doesnít belong to that class of leaders who do such things that perhaps used to happen in the past but not now.
Q. Did Party act in haste by asking you to step down?
Kamaal: I think it was a sudden decision and not a hasty one. It was party presidentís prerogative. As far as I am concerned I have followed the orders of party leadership.
Q. After your elevation as the Chief Spokesperson and the Additional General Secretary of National Conference you were very critical in your remarks against AFSPA, and coalition partner in the government, Congress. Whatever statements came from your side was it the policy of the NC?
Kamaal: Obviously, party cannot remain mute spectator to the events taking place in the state. National Conference represents the aspirations and sentiments of the people of the state and these are the sentiments and feelings that I have spoken. I have not spoken in my individual capacity. As a spokesman of the party I donít speak my language. I speak in partyís language. My views on AFSPA were peoplesí views. People strongly feel against AFSPA they strongly feel that there is no longer any justification or any need. Punjab militancy was finished in less than eight years. There was no AFSPA there. AFSPA has been here for last 22 years and Azad Sahib rightly said that if situation has not changed in 20 years then what we have been doing. According to Chief Minister there are areas where Army has never gone therefore there is no justification in having AFSPA in those areas. I have been reiterating that militancy is dead and it is being kept alive. Signals emanating from Pakistan are clear indications that Pakistan has retracted it hands from militancy in JK. Pakistan has already been destroyed by militancy. How can it spare time and resources to train and send militants here. This is all falsehood.
Q. You paid the price for taking Delhi head on?
Kamaal: Delhi has to be taken head on till it doesnít realize that all these years it has played with the sentiments of people of Jammu and Kashmir particularly the majority. The only thing it has paid to Kashmiris is death, destruction and misery.
Q. Have your statements damaged National Conference?
Kamaal: All my statements have neither been abusive nor critical. They have been based on truth and historical perspective. How have my statements damage anyone? I have not taken any ministers off from the chair. I have not shaken anybody in Delhi. I have not said something which is a closely guarded secret with either the Congress or the National Conference. I have said nothing that should upset them.
Q. Chief Minister said that your statements were creating trouble for him, whatís your take on it?
Kamaal: I donít think he said that I have been creating trouble for him. He said that recent utterances have created some problems and headache for him. But he did make some amends, but it was too late. That is fine. I belong to a political party which is 73 years old. Now those people in Delhi have perhaps forgotten that our association with Congress dates back to pre-1947 we have worked together. My father was never hesitant in remembering the help they extended to us in 1947 to push back the invaders who had come to take us by force, but after all that what had to be done by New Delhi with regard to Jammu and Kashmir problem they never did it. They retracted step by step all assertions, promises and words of comfort.
Q. Neither the Chief Minister nor the NC president were happy with your recent statements?
Kamaal: Being happy or unhappy is another thing. It is the coterie that surrounds leaders in New Delhi and here who colour these statements in a manner that as if it is worse than an attack by Pakistan. It is just a statement they can rebut it with a statement. I had all the authority as the chief spokesman and general secretary of the party to say what I think was right. If I was wrong they should have rebutted it with a statement.
Q. Do you believe New Delhi is running JK affairs?
Kamaal: As far as the coalition is concerned, Congress is in power in Delhi, obviously it runs the show. It always keeps the coalition under threat through its agents whether rightly or wrongly. They always through their agents give out statements like Soz Sahibís statement to keep their flock together. After the centre fourth time categorically said that they are not going to change the chief minister this Rahul Gandhi being unhappy came up. It is only an attempt to keep that hope alive that something is going to happen. This false hope is being generated to create uncertainty in the minds of bureaucracy and the government that something is cooking in New Delhi. This perception is being created by those people who surround people of influence here and there.
Q. Were you asked to step down to safeguard Omarís chair?
Kamaal: As far as I am concerned Omar belongs to third generation of Abdullah family and we can do anything for him. He is ruling JK with grace and courage with so many enemies around him.
Q. Is your stepping down a set back for National Conference Government ?
Kamaal: For a moment it will create little bit of sadness but National Conference has seen many worst things yet the people have backed the party. The Government formed in 1982 and 1988 were fully supported by central agencies. We have instances, when they failed to change the mindset of people with the gun they tried to change it by killing them. They said letís have re-election and manipulated election. And we know how they did it. As far as Centre is concerned it has always wanted domination.
Q: Where does NC ideology stand?
Kamaal: NC ideology is very clear. When Dr Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister, he submitted the autonomy resolution. Had we compromised on NC ideology guns would not have blazed against us.
Q: Is new face of NC different from the older one?
Kamaal: There can be a generation gap, but the new generation has to follow partyís ideology projected by its founder late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Generation can change but ideology cannot.
Q: Do you think NCís new generation is following New Delhiís agenda?
Kamaal: Our Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has clearly stated that JK has not merged with union of India, we have only acceded. However, New Delhi wants to work out a possible set up so that everything falls in its lap, but its not falling. We didnít have war with New Delhi, Pakistan had and our state turned into a battle field more than four times. It didnít help. It made the situation worse.
Q: Do you feel disappointed for being asked to step down?
Kamaal: There is no disappointment at all. I feel that I have been robbed of an opportunity to visit remote areas of the state. Going to such places as Chief Spokesman would have made a real difference. I could have done more for the people of remote areas.
Q: Will you continue to be in the party?
Kamaal: I donít think there is any reason for me to resign from the party. I will continue to issue the statements and remain active. Today only I addressed a rally at Pattan.
Q: Is All not well within Abdullah family?
Kamaal: The first divide in the family was created by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and his Congress at that time. Our family was split as brother-in-law and sister went one way and elder brother went other way. There is no dearth of examples in the world when such things have happened. This time also same thing must be working in the brains of people. Shah Sahib (G M Shah) died saying that he will never forgive himself for having divided the family.
Q. Will your ouster from top party positionsí give leverage to political opponents of NC and will it set an example for other NC leaders not to cross the line?
Kamaal: I didnít cross any line. Did my statement harm anyone? Where have I gone wrong and where have I crossed my limit? There is a difference between a party spokesman and a leader. Statement issued by any leader can be denied by top party leadership but it cannot deny the statement made by the spokesman.
Q. Bold voice in NC which had emerged after a long time has been asked to silence. Whatís your take on it?
Kamaal: Batil se darnay walay aye asmaan nahin hum sau bar kar chukka hain tu imthihaan hamara. Truth has to prevail. I have to speak as the spokesman of the people whenever it is necessary. I have my individual position outside the party. I am the third son of a great leader (Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah). I have no wish to be in any other surroundings than the National Conference. Others floated Old National Conference, Awami National Conference just to add name Conference to mislead the people.
Q. You were appointed as the Chief spokesperson of the party at a crucial time when opposition was alleging that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is involved in the killing of Syed Muhammad Yousuf. You raised such issues which opposition had no answer, you changed the course. Do you think you have been used and thrown?
Kamaal: If it is in the public interest they can use me again and again. Perhaps the decision to ask me to step down was taken to give me rest (laughs).
Q. Was Dr Farooq Abdullah pressurized for asking you to step down?
Kamaal: I believe Dr Farooq Abdullah was pressurized that is why he asked me to resign.
Q. Do you think sacking you from party posts was Dr Farooqís independent decision?
Kamaal: I believe it was not his individual decision, but I was surprised when I got a call from a lower rung employee from the Chief Minister office saying that a statement has been issued to media that you have been asked to resign. He asked me to contradict the statement as it has been issued by some of our enemy.
I couldnít believe it. It was a sudden decision there was no indication about it. I was not mentally prepared for it.
Q: Do you think New Delhi can absorb anything but nothing against Gandhi family?
Kamaal: That is not right. Late Indira Gandhi was also imprisoned and she was very badly treated when she was pushed into a car by a policeman which was shown on the TV. Gandhi family is a political family that has seen ups and downs like Abdullah family. There is nothing like they are untouchables or we are untouchables.
Q Are you the only one in National Conference who is projecting the views and aspirations of the people?
Kamaal: I agree there is dearth of people in the party who are projecting the views of people. But the need of the hour is to project the aspirations of people.
Q: Do you feel NC has to look towards Delhi for even taking a small decision?
Kamaal: We were forced to enter into a coalition. Had NC attained majority on its own things would have been different. Omar is a tough man, but if he is pushed towards the wall he can kick the chair anytime. New Delhi should realize that it cannot demolish the democratic set up in JK by meddling into everything and issuing diktats.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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