Fifty-five-year-old Avinash Rai Khanna is a BJP member of Upper House of Parliament or Rajya Sabha with roots in RSS. He hails from Punjab and has also been member of the Lower House in the 14th Lok Sabha from Hoshiarpur. His generally quiet disposition brought to him the task of a go-between his party and PDP as BJP coordinator for its alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. Suddenly, this has become quite onerous for the advocate-turned-MP as the border State’s last steward Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away on January 7th, giving way to President’s rule in the State for howsoever short period. And as the late Mufti’s daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, awaits to take over the mantle of her father, Khanna spoke to Policy Pulse on Sunday (January 10th) evening about the future of PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
How do you see the future of BJP’s alliance with PDP in the wake of change of guards that is imminent because of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s untimely death?
alliance with the PDP has been a positive one. It has been based on developmental issues and betterment of the State. This was the case during Mufti Saheb’s time. And this continues to be so after his sad demise. So I don’t see any problem.
How are you going to renew the alliance with Mehbooba as leader?
The Governor has issued a letter to the People’s Democratic Party. So we are waiting for the PDP’s response. At the moment the family of Mufti Saheb is in a state of shock. So is the State and both the parties, I mean PDP and BJP.
There have been reports about Opposition, mainly Congress and National Conference, trying to upstage your alliance with the PDP by offering support to Mehbooba and isolate BJP. How do you see such moves?
The Opposition parties that you have mentioned had offered their support to the late Mufti Saheb at the very beginning but he had refused and preferred to go along with BJP as he had thought this to be the best for the State and the nation. Ever since there has not been any change in this position. Now at this stage that has arisen because of the loss of Mufti Saheb the PDP has to open its card by choosing its leader so that the alliance can be taken forward.
Will you seek a change of portfolios for your Ministers in the new dispensation?
At this stage I cannot comment on this. First PDP has to elect its leader. It is yet to do so and, thus, it would not be proper for me to say anything at the moment.