Even as the government faced Opposition's ire over Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's remarks that "people from across the border" - seen as a reference to Pakistan - had allowed peaceful polls in the state, his daughter and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti defended his remarks saying they stand by all that they've said.
Ms Mufti spoke to NDTV's Barkha Dutt. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
NDTV: Mufti Saab's first press conference on day one generated a huge controversy because he was seen as being pro-Pakistan, pro-militant, pro-separatist when he credited, apko bhi malum hai unhone kya bola, he credited the people uss paar unhone ye phrase use kiya, uss par ke logon ne bhi contribute kiya unhone allow kiya ki ek conducive environment baney. Mehboobajidon't you think that this overshadowed what should have been a historic occasion, that his words were wrong, the messaging was wrong?
Mehbooba Mufti: My father is a very clear-hearted person. He doesn't mingle words. So if you remember in Parliament election there was so much violence, especially in my constituency. 4-5 people were killed in one night in Tral, then in Pulwama, then in Pampore, and we had hardly one thousand votes polled in Tral, maybe three or four thousand in Pampore, maybe three thousand in Pulwama. Why? And you know on the day of polling there were hundreds of people who were pelting stones. People did not dare to go to the polling booth. But in this election that did not happen. God forbid if that had happened we would not have seen this kind of you know...
NDTV: But isn't that also because of the security forces...
Mehbooba Mufti: Security has always been there. I mean what my father said. He is a true democrat. Why does he believe in India? He does not believe in India because it's about his power politics jo 1947 me you became an Indian. National Conference became Indian because they got the Prime Minister. But jab woh Prime Ministership chali gayi inhone kaha humey plebiscite. My father, he joined the Indian democratic system immediately after he came from Aligarh. At that point of time it was a taboo, it was untouchable because Kashmir was burning with the slogans of Sheikh Saab, ki humko Pakistan jana chahiye, humein raishumari. It was my father's belief in democratic process. You can never ever make my father change his stance. He's a man of peace.
NDTV: But what did he mean? What did he mean when he complimented Pakistan, the Hurriyat, the militants even instead of the people and the Armed Forces?
Mehbooba Mufti: What he actually means or what I have been discussing is that unless and until we don't build stakes for Pakistan in our peace, in our democracy, stakes of Hurriyat in our peace, in our democracy, then whatever is going to be the resolution, whatever they are going to get is going to be out of this Indian system. If, at some point of time, we have felt that they have not gone from door to door, or fortunately they have not used that kind of violence which they used during my election, you know, during Parliament elections and it was done for whatever reasons, we should acknowledge that. We should acknowledge that and send a message that okay, you have a problem; there is an issue.
NDTV: But there were attacks in the campaign. There was a big terror attack in Uri on the army camp, aapko bhi yaad hai, political workers sarpanch level pe were targeted, it was not a violence-free election.
Mehbooba Mufti: No, no. If you compare it with the Parliament election why was there such less percentage of voter turn out in my constituency? Because so many people were killed and then you know, I think my father is a man of peace. He wants reconciliation with Pakistan. He wants to win the hearts and minds of people of J&K. If you want someone who is going to go for Pakistan bashing, say Pakistan ko humla kardo, bomb maro aur, my father is not that person. I mean why do we admire Vajpayeeji? Because Vajpayeeji, at the peak of militancy, he went to Lahore with a bus. And what was he rewarded with, Kargil my God. Anybody in his place would not have even looked towards Pakistan. But still he invited Musharraf. Then we had Parliament attack. There was a war like situation. Then Vajpayee again said, he said no, we want to have peace with each other. Then there was ceasefire. So my father believes in that kind of reconciliation. My father tells me that when he met Vajpayee, once he said, he was the Prime Minister, maine bola Vajpayeeji Kashmir ka kuch karte, Pakistan se baat kyu nahi karte. Toh unhone kaha mufti ji kya karenge woh Kashmir mangte hai. Kashmir to koi bhi Prime Minister ek, toh Mufti Saab ne kaha why don't we make borders irrelevant? So that jo unko deprivation hai ki humse koi cheez chhin gayi ya humarey logo ko lagta hai, wahan bahut kuch jyada acha hai, lets make borders irrelevant, let them come and see.
NDTV: Do you think he chose the wrong words or do you stand by his statement? Was he trying to convey something else and did he choose the wrong words or do you think ki unhone kuch galat nahi bola?
Mehbooba Mufti: Nahi. unhone jo kaha, unhone ye kaha ki jo is election main, because dekhiye Sajad Lone, wo kaha se aya? He's a separatist.
NDTV: He's a separatist, yes
Mehbooba Mufti: Matlab ye hai ki hum Indian democratic process ko puri tarah se falne fulne denge aur ek baar logon mai ye baat jaegi ki joh milne wala hai issi se milne wala hai toh kahi na kahi jo Hurriyat waley jo ye samajhte hai ki hum election boycott karwa ke, ya Pakistan ko ye lagta hai ki violence karwane se hume kuch hasil hoga unko bhi yehi lagega ki uss se kuch hasil honey wala nahi hai, jo bhi kuch hasil hoga, you know, once we build peace. So his point is we need to engage Pakistan in a way so that they have stakes in peace in J&K.
Mehbooba Mufti: Pakistan ke assets kya hai J&K mein. You know, let's, woh to sabhi kehte hain.
NDTV: Assets meaning promoted by Pakistan?
Mehbooba Mufti: Militants unke assets hai na. Ye toh dono connect karte hai. Jab Pakistan, Kashmir ke apne bhi hai , huriyat ke, they are all, you know, you have to say ki kahi na kahi ye sarey connect karte hai. Magar agar kisi election mai humko ye lagta hai ki shayad thoda bahut inhone let off kiya, toh humko usko acknowledge karke unko aur bhi jyada peace mai unke stakes build karne chahiye ki rather than Pakistan ko firing karo, udhar attack karo idhar attack karo, humne toh badey attack kiye.
NDTV: So you stand by the statement. Aapko nahi lagta ki isme kuch BJP ke liye kuch badi embarrassment ho gayi, that it made day one start off on the wrong note?
Mehbooba Mufti: Mujhe lagta hai ki humarey working groups mai ek report mai bahut kuch tha, bahut si achi batein thi, change of, yeh power projects ke transfer, AFSPA ke barey mai tha. Usme ek aur bhi cheez thi ki we need to sensitize our media viz-a vis J&K. So mera ye hai ki jo humara media hai, with due respect, because I admire Indian media for what they do, agar kahi communal riot hota hai, kisi ladki ke sath jyadti ho jati hai, kahi khuda na khasta rape hota hai, aur ye jo pura inkalaab humarey mulk ke andar agaya hai corruption ke khilaaf, iska maximum credit media ko jata hai. Toh isi tarah mai samajhti hoon ki jab hum J&K ko leke ek naya chapter open karne ki koshish karein, isme jab tak media humara saath nahi degi, jo mere father ka vision hai, jo unki policy hai reconciliation ki, reconstruction ki, rebuilding ki, dil jodne ki, jab tak aap media ke log humarey us essence ko sahi maino mai nahi samjhogey mujhe lagta hai shayad hum kamiyab nahi ho paenge.
NDTV: To ap keh rahi hai media has distorted the story or overplayed it?
Mehbooba Mufti: Mujhe lagta hai media ko bhi, see you have been coming to Kashmir, I think you understand it much more than anybody. Mujhe lagta hai aur bhi jo humarey media ke badey badey log hai, bade senior log hai, I would not like to name them, aapke jo level ke log hai, mujhe lagta hai unko aake Kashmir jyada ana padega. Correspondents to theek hai, they need to feel Kashmir ki jo pain hai, jo agni hai, jab tak Kashmir ke log mulk ke logon ke saath hasna nahi seekhenge jab tak mullk ke log Kashmir ke logo ke sath rona nahi seekhnge, mujhe lagta hai ye jo khai humary beech mai hai, jisko my father is trying to build bridges, us khai ko bharna chahte hai, is waqt modi ji ke sath milke, tab tak ye khai nahi bharegi jab tak ap log humein support nahi karenge.
NDTV: Apko BJP ne kuch convey kiya ki they are upset with this comment?
Mehbooba Mufti: No, no mere sath koi aisi
NDTV: Aisi koi baat nahi hui, privately bhi nahi?
Mehbooba Mufti: Nahi, nothing, nothing.