Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's brother Tassaduq Mufti is contesting the Anantnag bypoll on 12 April. Ahead of the election, the reluctant politician spoke to News18's Mufti Islah while on the campaign trail and said that the government needs to engage the youth first and give confidence to separatists to move to the mainstream.
Edited excerpts of the interview follow:
In your initial remarks you told your supporters that they should save themselves rather than vote for you. Was it because of the unrest?
That is obvious. They should take care of themselves. They should be safe.
When you said that were you suggesting things are very bad in the Valley. Is there unrest?
What do you think?
I am asking you.
Sometimes, the best answer to a question is a question itself. What do you think? I think, yes, it is.
There is this problem of youths gathering near encounter sites. How are you as a politician going to resolve this?
We are trying to address this as a tactical, emotional problem, as disillusionment and that is the best way to address it. That is not the only way but the best way to address it.
Do you think there should be dialogue with the agitated and angry youth?
I think they should be listened to. I think there should be some amount of counselling and skill development. That would be required. They should be engaged.
But the party with which you are aligned, the BJP, is not endorsing dialogue?
We are having a conversation and listening to the youth. There should be no problem with that. We are having informal conversations.
The BJP is trying to bring radical faces in its polity like Yogi Adityanath as chief minister in Uttar Pradesh. Is that creating a problem?
But he is not in Jammu and Kashmir. Does it bother you?
It doesn't bother me as a journalist.
Then it does not bother me for the time being.
How are you going to be different as a politician?
That's obvious by now. We need to lay better foundations for tomorrow. We need to be systematic, scientific. We need to understand things first before we go for a solution. Data analysis and data collection, we should be ready to do that before we make any intervention. We should understand the problems first.
Is it a problem for you and the Opposition to hold large open air rallies? You are confining yourself to indoor rallies.
We are trying to address the problem in the best way we can and hopefully we will try to get counsellors, some psychologists, some skill development people, some NGOs and hopefully make a positive change.
When you go to the Parliament, what are the issues you are going to raise? Will you advocate dialogue with separatists?
For now, I will focus on dialogue with the youth. Hopefully that will give separatists some amount of confidence to move towards the mainstream.
Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 12:04 PM