J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said regional parties still have a space in the country and leaders like Mayawati could not be written off in the backdrop of the BJP’s performance in the UP Assembly polls. “People like Mayawati are gone but not out. Regional parties are going to stay, they cannot be ignored,” she said at the India Today Conclave here.
Replying to a question on the BJP’s growth in the country, she said “Regional aspirations are still going to be there, which cannot be ignored. Political landscape is going to change, it won’t be like this always”.
Comparing the approach of the governments led by AB Vajpayee and Narendra Modi towards her state, Mehbooba said she found the current Prime Minister ‘open to ideas’. “I have spoken to him (Modi) many times. In my personal opinion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is open to ideas. Like Vajpayee, he also came from the grassroots and we are discussing various issues,” she said.
“PM Modi is trying to evolve the country as a true federal structure. We need to reach out to the youth of the state,” the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said.
On the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Mehbooba said that she feels that it will be good if in some areas of the state it can be revoked for, may be three to six months. “Being a border state, Jammu and Kashmir has a little different situation. We are being given special treatment and what is wrong in that, because we are the victims.
“I would like to say, Kashmir is the safest place for women. Though relations between two nations (India and Pakistan) do affect us, it is still true with women’s safety in Kashmir,” she said. Terming Jammu and Kashmir as a “modern state”, she invited people to visit her state.
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“I invite people to come and spend time with your family, not just come and invest,” she said when asked if she wants to appeal to businessmen in Mumbai for investment in Kashmir.
On the Jallikattu issue, Mehbooba said “I understand their (Tamils’) feelings but I do not like Jallikattu. I don’t like that. The hurt to animals. I don’t like it.”
Asked to name a place in India but outside Jammu and Kashmir where she would like to go as a tourist, she said, “Pahalgam is my favourite tourist destination. Once a Kashmiri, always a Kashmiri.”