Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party has made Jammu and Kashmir into a “political experimental laboratory”, reported the Hindustan Times on Saturday.

Mufti accused the BJP of seeing everything through the prism of “petty electoral gains” and said that the party lacks the vision and resolve to make decisions that will heal the country. “Instead, it has chosen to take India down a dark and regressive path steeped in division, bigotry and hatred for minorities,” she said. “Unfortunately, J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] became a political experimental laboratory.”

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said that she would not go into an alliance with the BJP and that doing so was her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s idea. Sayeed was the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir two times, between November 2002 and November 2005, and again from March 2015 to January 2016, when he died.

“My father had a political vision not only for J&K but also for the country,” Mufti told the newspaper. “He put everything at stake, including his credibility, while aligning with the BJP, only with the intention to secure what we already had – our special status – and to find a peaceful and dignified solution to the Kashmir problem.” Mufti added that even though she did not like the saffron party, she could not walk away from the alliance after her father died.

When asked if a case of sedition was made against her when she said that she would not recognise the national flag till the Jammu and Kashmir flag was restored, Mufti said that the Union Territory’s flag and special status were taken away unconstitutionally. “I said I will wait for it to be restored and hold both the flags together,” she said. “Let’s not forget both the Indian and J&K flag derived their legitimacy from the Indian Constitution. If that amounts to sedition, then so be it.”

The PDP chief also told the newspaper that she considered quitting politics during her detention but added that giving up on something her father held dear felt like a betrayal. Mufti was released from detention after over a year on October 13. She 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 also detained. 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.

The BJP countered Mufti’s allegations, saying that her opposition to the Centre’s decision to revoke the special status under Article 370 granted to Jammu and Kashmir has exposed PDP’s “petty politics”.

“Leaders like Mehbooba Mufti have been rejected by the citizenry of Kashmir,” BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said. “Her divisive & anti-India statements like she won’t hold the tricolour till Article 370 is restored, runs against the ethos and integrity of the Indian democracy.”