There will be no political outreach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Wednesday.
Speaking in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Abdullah said the PM’s visit was only about development projects, and there were no slots available for meetings with the political leadership.
“This is about 2 Central projects, 1 rail [Katra-Udhampur rail line], and 1 power [Uri hydel power project], being dedicated to the nation, and just as well we are keeping politics out of it,” he said. In that sense, Mr. Modi’s visit will be different from previous visits by former PMs, including PM Manmohan Singh, who held meetings with the State Cabinet, along with “roundtables” with different stakeholders in Srinagar.
Mr. Abdullah brushed aside the question of his own acrimonious relationship with Mr. Modi before the elections, including his open challenge to Mr. Modi to visit Kashmir for a debate on Article 370, saying those comments had been made during the election campaign, and “that was in the light of Article 370 debate, but that was then and this is now.”
At a public rally in Ramban, Mr. Abdullah, however, warned against any move on the Article, saying “We cannot be browbeaten by money or muscle power.”
Mr. Abdullah “welcomed” Mr. Modi’s decision to help Kashmiri Pandits return to the Valley more than 20 years after they fled targeted violence, claiming that it was his government’s programme that had been kept in “the cold storage” by the previous UPA government.