Farooq Kathwari- Would any concessions to Kashmiris, most of whom consider themselves to be nationalists in terms of being Kashmiris and they also happen to be Muslims, would any concessions by BJP weaken this Hindu coalition that you have talked about and is that an issue in terms of finding a solution in Kashmir?
It is a very good question. Just imagine if the BJP government makes concessions to Farooq Abdullah or Hurriyat. The Hurriyat is an interesting case. If they made concessions to the Hurriyat, that will certainly start making some Hurriyat leaders look like they have been bought and that would certainly delegitimize them in the short run. Let us go back to Punjab for a second because this was precisely the problem in Punjab. If Congress made concessions to Akalis when Rajiv Gandhi said to Akalis we will take Chandigarh away from Haryana and give you Chandigarh that had a double edged impact on Akalis. Those Akali leaders whose hands were being strengthened as a result of this felt this was great, but others had started saying that they been bought off by Congress. So similar dynamics are likely in Kashmir. At this point, the big issue facing BJP, I think from what I have been able to judge from talking to people in the know, is whether to switch support from Farooq Abdullah to Hurriyat. Farooq Abdullah is the chief minister of the state and the Hurriyat is a coalition of a variety of Muslim separatist groups (about 30 different parties). And the Hurriyat has much more support probably than Farooq Abdullah does. I am not sure without rigging if he can win another election. So the question you are asking is a very good one. What should be the government’s strategy vis a vis either one of these groups? Should they give them more concessions or should they…My feeling is that they should let a real genuine open election take place. Whoever wins tell them- you cannot secede but we are willing to subsidize, give you a lot of resources, and willing to let you govern a fair number of things on your own. So whoever emerges as a legitimate set of rulers in a reasonably open election. Set boundaries but give concessions- I think that is more likely to work than trying to strengthen the hands of some groups by throwing resources at them which is the classic strategy both Congress and BJP play- we will visit you in the prison and make deals with you and hope when you come out you will be a good individual. I think that will probably backfire in the Kashmiri milieu right now. What do you think since you know so much?