By Tarun Vijay
Just last week I was in AIIMS (hospital) in New Delhi, enquiring about his health and speaking to the doctors attending him. Inside ICU, he was unable to respond but I knew he loved me and would have been happy to see me there. It was impossible for me to go to Kashmir and return without having a breakfast or lunch with him in his room with fabulous view of his garden he and Mehbooba Mufti (his daughter) had nurtured for years. Often we shall have the hand-picked cherries from his home, and once Mehbooba insisted, “I can t let you go without these fresh ones, Mufti saheb would be annoyed otherwise”.
Such was his affection and love for a man who differed with him on many of his political beliefs but the Kashmiriyat, the core Indian values if I saw living in some one, it was in the heart of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who died in New Delhi January 7.
Immediately after the formation of the new coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, I met him, he was a bit not in his usual form, but his eyes showed warmth and his hug made me emotional. I presented him a portrait of great Tamil saint poet Thiruvalluvar . I requested him to propagate Thiruvalluvar’s message in J&K, specially in Kashmir universities where his Thirukural will merge effortlessly with the great messages of Sufi saints. Without a minute of hesitation, he put that portrait in his sitting room himself finding a most prominent place and said “Yes, we shall do it. Send me a formal proposal with his writings”.
What made him so much adored even among those who didn't agree with him on may issues? It was his sincerity and a transparent heart , throbbing for Indian unity that won him admiration across the faultiness of political divide.
We had been publishing scathingly critical reports about him in Panchjanya, the RSS mouthpiece, but I remember Atal ji (former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) telling me once after seeing one such issue, don't push people to take extreme postures with your extreme criticism, ultimately everyone has to be in India and work for Indians, shades may differ, they should not mean they are unpatriotic. I took that lesson and refrained from using that kind of language again. I think its the same Atal doctrine that made a BJP-PDP alliance possible this time in Kashmir a historic one.
In June this year when I had a long chat in his Srinagar home which ended with a sumptuous Kashmiri dinner with Mehbooba. The Muftis were sure the alliance with BJP is a historic one and making it succeed would mean defeating the fissiparous and divisive elements. “We must not do anything that helps the opponents of this unprecedented unity, they are working to wreck this, should we allow them? he asked. “You may rake up any emotive issue at the choice of your time, but then think of the consequences too, will you be able to stop any one o from amongst us, any worker to rake up a similar emotive issue in your reply? Then?”
He was very concerned about the New Delhi’s grants for Kashmir and said: “Now when BJP is in power at the centre, people here expect they will get a special attention and the long standing demands for employment and development will be met. Its a bigger responsibility on the union govt than ever.” His faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi was total. "He is the man who is going to bring new era in Kashmir, I have great hopes from him Tarun Vijay saheb, he has come as a new hope for us." I agreed.
Mufti represented the suave and sober elements in the state’s politics. He was approachable, and he knew the art of listening. His admirers are spread all over India. His stature was recognised even by his political foes and hopes had risen high under his leadership. Above all he was a personal friend, a father figure, who would not hesitate to meet even in the most trying and turbulent times. Thats what we believe democracy is. Thats the idea of India. We pay humble tributes to a man who rose to the occasion and became a man of the moment, architecting a new edifice of political governance and hope for a happier Indian dawn in the state.
( Tarun Vijay is a BJP Member of Parliament. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)