Srinagar, Oct. 13: Ghulam Mohammed Sofi, who was expelled from the Hurriyat Conference for contesting the Jammu and Kashmir elections, seems all set to make overtures to his former comrades.
“These elections are just an administrative step to throw out the repressive National Conference government. The elections will not solve any problem here. The core issue has to be worked out between India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir,” said Sofi, the only proxy People’s Conference candidate to have won the elections.
Sofi, however, does not regard himself as the people’s representative for negotiating a solution to the Kashmir problem. He and others like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members were elected to facilitate talks between the Indian government and the Hurriyat leadership. “That is my mandate, nothing more or less,” said the man who was closely identified with slain Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone.
The mandate of the people, he believes, is to instal a government that can restore the credibility of the administration through clean governance. He insisted that Kashmiris were with the Hurriyat, but could not explain why they came out to vote despite the Hurriyat’s boycott call.
Relaxing in the spacious lawns of Srinagar’s only five-star hotel, Sofi said his views on solving the Kashmir dispute was exactly the same as the Hurriyat’s. “We have come forward for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute by dialogue between the three sides concerned.”
He, however, refused to spell out what the final solution should be. Like Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP, he insisted that the role of the state government was not to take part in negotiations with the Centre.
Sofi has joined hands with other Independents, including the two CPM members, to form the Democratic People’s Forum. This group has already extended support for the formation of a coalition government by the Congress and the PDP, largely to ensure that that the National Conference does not cobble together an alternative formation.
All efforts have to be made to ensure that the National Conference does not get back to power, he said, alleging that it has brutalised the administration and inflicted hardship on the people.
Sofi said he was not in touch with either Bilal or Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference. They were out of the state and had not telephoned to congratulate him after his victory.
It is, however, well known that he contested the elections with the complete support of the two Lone brothers and liberally used the Lone legacy during his campaign.