Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to build an ecosystem where “there is no place for democracy”, reported The Indian Express.

“There is no place for real democracy in BJP’s India,” she told reporters at her residence in Srinagar, according to the Hindustan Times. “They want to create their own ecosystem. They have their own puppets and B-teams whom they want to install here and that is why they are making so many efforts for DDC elections.” The first phase of District Development Council elections was held on November 29.

Mufti said that holding polls were not the solution to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir, and suggested that the central government should hold a dialogue with Pakistan. “There should be a dialogue between the two countries [India and Pakistan],” the PDP chief said. “If we are talking to China, which has taken our land, why not with Pakistan? Is it about being a Muslim country because everything is communal now.”

The PDP chief also called for reinstating special status granted to the erstwhile state under Article 370, saying that the Kashmir problem will persist without it. “Ministers will come and go,” she said. “Simply conducting elections is no solution to the problem.”

On the District Development Council polls, Mufti claimed that the candidates of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration were not being allowed to campaign. “How [the] candidates will contest if they are not allowed to canvass?” she asked.

The former chief minister of the erstwhile state also accused the BJP of branding people, calling “Muslims as Pakistanis, Sardars as Khalistani, social activists as Urban Naxals, and students as gangs and traitors”. She asked if everyone is a terrorist, then who is an Indian in this country. “Only Bharatiya Janata Party workers?” she said.

On Mufti’s allegations, BJP chief of Jammu and Kashmir unit Ravinder Raina said that the people of the Union territory have rejected the “Gupkar gang”. The term was recently used by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to describe the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. “There is a wave in favour of BJP in the ongoing DDC elections,” he said. “Mehbooba Mufti is distraught owing to the verve of BJP activists, particularly youth.”

Mufti was detained a day ahead of the District Development Council polls. On November 27, she claimed that she was restrained from meeting the family of Peoples Democratic Party Youth Wing President Waheed Parra. The PDP chief was supposed to hold a press conference at 3 pm that day. However, journalists on Twitter said they were barred from attending her press conference.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police, however, denied that Mufti was put under house arrest, and said that she was requested to postpone her visit to Pulwama to meet Parra’s family “purely due to security reasons”.

Mufti was released from detention after over a year on October 13. Mufti had been in detention under the Public Safety Act since August 5, 2019, the day the Centre abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and bifurcated it into Union Territories, and imposed a complete lockdown.

Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including two other former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah – were detained last year. Omar Abdullah was released seven months later on March 24 as the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked his detention order under the Public Safety Act. Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13. People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone was released in July.