There are many grey shades in this respect. Mufti’s image was severely dented when he joined hands with BJP. It was like the North Pole joining the South Pole. Power is not the final objective of great leaders. His long cherished dream to be the Chief Minister was not only short lived but fraught with many controversies and dissent. I think he was anticipating this and was prepared for that. Though many people think that there was no other way out, people of Kashmir don’t look it that way. People want leaders to stay loyal to the principles they espouse.
Zareef Ahmad Zareef
Kashmiri satirist poet
History will record him as an Indian by conviction. He did everything to prove this point. He was a great asset for India in Kashmir and India will mourn his death. It took India more than six decades to cultivate such an asset in the Valley.
At the same time, Mufti was at the vanguard of cordial ties between India and Pakistan. He was eager to start cross-LoC trade as a sign of everlasting peace in the region.
However, the formation of coalition government with BJP came at a critical juncture in his political career. I discussed with him the pros and cons in this respect. Though he gave some arguments to substantiate his stance, I was not convinced. He staunchly believed that India will never leave Kashmir and therefore pitched for Self-Rule.
Industrialist and social activist
I consider him as our wise enemy. And as the adage goes, I will prefer a wise enemy to a foolish friend. He was a shrewd politician who foresaw that India is not going to leave us at any cost. Therefore, he tried to consolidate that thing by preventing further deterioration of our case.
He played a philosophical game with India. He was convinced that with seven lakh forces on the ground there was no point fighting the Indian might. You can prevent them from further oppressing you only by joining hands with them. This was his approach.
Some people say that he betrayed his own principles by joining hands with BJP. But, did he have any principles?
He was always for accession with India. But we must agree that compared to others he was for the well-being of Kashmiris. Though he could not provide any solution to our four-century old occupation, he stood for the people.
Prof Ashraf Wani
History will interpret him in different ways. Some people believe that the creation of PDP was to divide Kashmiri Muslims. We must admit, though, he introduced bi-party system in the Valley, which up to that time was a single-party system. He was very much interested in good governance. Development took place during his time. People considered him as a saviour from the menace of Ikhwani terror. This, along with other things, enhanced his image as a politician.
Since politicians are lured by short-term gains, so was Mufti. He was a politician with the full definition of the word. He was lured by BJP to form coalition government with it and he complied, thus committing political suicide.
Prof Gul Wani
Mufti’s political life had two major phases. One, when he was a Congressman and two, when he floated his own party, PDP. In the first phase he became an instrument in the long undemocratic politics of Kashmir. In the second, he shaped his politics as a mainstream Kashmiri politician.
Gradually, he realized that the Indian mainstream and Kashmiri mainstream could be reconciled.
Why did Mufti pave the path for BJP in Kashmir is a question often asked. Mufti realized that there is a gradual decline in the ideological tone of political parties in India. In India even communist parities advocate capitalism. Jammu is not happy with the work of BJP. They simply don’t represent the aspirations and sentiments of Hindus. Mufti was an experienced politician but his experience didn’t yield any results. No jobs, no development, no good governance. Though I won’t say the experiment failed. People credit Mufti for ending NC’s monopoly in Kashmiri politics. This is partly correct. Didn’t Congress too add another element of political competition here? So it won’t be correct to solely credit Mufti for that.
Prof. Noor Baba
History is not that simple to decipher. In my opinion we have to wait for some more time to assess Mufti Sayeed. You must give him credit for ending the monopoly of National Conference in the Valley, thereby adding another dimension to Kashmiri politics. Second important thing is that he blurred the separatist discourse. He diluted separatist voices considerably.
His positive contribution is that he always stood for talks with Pakistan, separatists and others.
His joining hands with the BJP, however, severely dented his image. I would say that the BJP made inroads in the Valley courtesy Mufti Sayeed. There are the short-term and long-term ramifications of this coalition. Short-term we are already witnessing these days, while we must wait for long-term ramifications three to four years.
Abdul Majid Zargar
History will judge him as a traitor. He was always a scheming man who played havoc with Kashmir. You can gauge this fact this way: Mufti was very close to G M Sadiq and everyone knows that Sadiq brought a constitutional disaster to Kashmir.
Some people credit him for ending the monopoly of Abdullahs. It is a charade. I would agree on this point only if Mufti had beaten Abdullahs in elections. He did not; rather he was scheming things and propped up G M Shah to dethrone the Abdullahs. It was a well-woven trick to destabilize Kashmiris. I am no great fan of Abdullahs. But truth has to be spoken.
Then there is his appointment of Governor Jagmohan. He was quite aware of adverse and complex equation between Jagmohan and Farooq Abdullah. Yet he made this move. Jagmohan’s track record was known to one and all then. Therefore I blame Mufti for massacres at Gow Kadal, Hawal, Handwara and other atrocities committed by Jagmohan.
Mufti’s joining hands with BJP further shattered his already dented image. Though it is against our cultural ethos to speak bad about a dead person, history has to be set straight.
—As told to Aasif Sultan