SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Sunday dismissed speculations that the PAGD, an alliance of six mainstream parties, was headed for a break-up, stressing there is no alternative to staying together as the Centre's "onslaught" against the people of Jammu and Kashmir has to be taken "head on collectively".
"A coalition of this kind will take time to settle down," the People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief told PTI, terming the recent rumblings in the alliance expected "teething troubles".
Her comments come in the backdrop of the exit of one of the PAGD constituents, the Peoples Conference, and suggestions by some of her party men that she should also reconsider the PDP's relations with the National Conference and whether staying in PAGD remains pertinent.
The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a grouping of the National Conference, the PDP, the People's Conference, the CPI-M, the CPI, the Awami National Conference and the JKPM, was formed last October ahead of the District Development Council elections.
"Teething problems were expected as far as the PAGD is concerned. We have been traditional rivals. A coalition of this kind will take time to settle down. But seeing the Central government's onslaught against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no other alternative but to take them head on collectively as a unit," she said.
Talking about some PDP leaders quitting the party in recent times including its founder member Muzzafar Hussain Baigh, the 61-year-old PDP chief said it was a "loss".
"But then these are challenging times for all of Jammu and Kashmir and the PDP is no different. But I am sure we will rise above these challenges and emerge stronger. Inshallah (God willing)."
The PDP leader also spoke about the deterioration of her relations with the BJP, with which her party had an alliance from 2015-2018 in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
"It is not about my relations with them. Anyone who raises his or her voice against their punitive actions is labelled anti-national," she said.
Pointing out the ongoing farmers' agitation and arrests of some students, activists, journalists, politicians and others, she said, "Everyone has to pay a price for being vocal against their (the BJP's) anti-people decisions.
This country is no more run in accordance with the constitution of India, but on their (Centre's) whims and fancies.
"They are using their brute majority to bulldoze both the Constitution and Parliament with anti-people laws. So, my being vocal on the unconstitutional scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, which was again granted to us under this very Constitution, has made me anti-national and thus threat to the security of India," she said.
Mehbooba, who was detained in August 2019 hours before the operative provisions of Article 370 were scrapped and J&K was divided into two union territories, spoke about her recent questioning by the Enforcement Directorate and reports about alleged misuse of the Chief Minister's discretionary funds during her tenure.
"No surprises either. Since 2018, this government was frantically trying to pin a case of financial impropriety or misappropriation against me. This wild goose chase has finally culminated in them clutching at straws and accusing me of the most bizarre allegations.
"This is an attempt to malign my reputation by ensuring that these lies are circulated through" a section of media which has become a "mouthpiece" of this regime, she said.
On her being denied a fresh passport following an adverse report by the police, she said, "An adverse report has also been filed against my mother who is in her seventies.
According to the government, her holding a passport is detrimental to the security of India.
"As shocking as this may sound, it's very much expected from a regime that has jailed an 85-year-old social activist (Stan Swamy) who suffers from Parkinson's, and spitefully denied him a straw and sipper for months on end.
This government not only lacks long-term vision but empathy as well. It's also their deep paranoia caused by their wrong and illegal actions on 5th August 2019 in Jammu and Kashmir that has resulted in such vindictive actions," she said.