Ground Report | Srinagar
A new political party called the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Apni (own) Party’ (JKAP) will be launched on Sunday and will be led by former state finance minister Syed Altaf Bukhari, with a primary aim of providing “relief to people who have been facing uncertainty since 5 August last year”.
The Groundreport.in, was first to break the news about new political party will be launched in Jammu and Kashmir.
This will be the first political activity in Jammu and Kashmir after 5 August last year, the day the Centre withdrew the special status of the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Yes, I am in politics accidentally but my idea of politics is different — I believe that it is a place where you can serve people to the best of your abilitiesAltaf Bukhari, Politician
Businessman-turned-politician Bukhari, who was part of the PDP till he distanced himself from Mehbooba Mufti, whose government was reduced to minority after the BJP withdrew support in June 2018.
There were differences between Mufti and Bukhari over the functioning of the PDP. Bukhari (60), a graduate in Agriculture Science, will be joined by politicians from various other parties, including the National Conference (NC), the PDP, the Congress and the BJP.
Among the prominent personalities set to join him are Vijay Bakaya, Rafi Mir (NC), Usman Majid (former Congress MLA), Ghulam Hassan Mir (former Independent MLA), Javed Hussain Beg, Dilawar Mir, Noor Mohammed, Zaffar Manhas, Abdul Majid Paddar, Abdul Rahim Rather (PDP), Gagan Bhagat (BJP) and Manjeet Singh and Vikram Malhotra from the Congress, he said.
The proposed party aims to take on regional outfits like the National Conference and the PDP, whose leaders, including Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti, have been booked under the stringent Public Safety Act. These leaders were initially kept in preventive detention and later, booked under the PSA.
Bukhari called for release of all political leaders and said they should apprise the people of the changed realities. “I waited patiently for several weeks for others to step in but then decided to enter myself,” he said.
“While the parties are focused on the release of their leaders, many of their workers are unable to get even two square meals a day. My effort will be to contribute in making their life better,” Bukhari told PTI recently.
The former PDP leader, however, had a word of praise for ex-chief minister Omar Abdullah. “I think he is a man of principles and who will never make people suffer for achieving his own political goals unlike others,” Bukhari said, adding that he would extend all support in case his party came to power.
“My aim is to bring relief to people. It can be through my party or any other party that comes to power. I will extend complete support as long as the smile on the faces of the common people is ensured,” he said.
Bukhari said that in the new scenario, every political party should educate people about the changed realities of the erstwhile state.
“Show them achievable dreams and not a mirage. I say that I cannot turn the clock back and restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir but I will work for the return of statehood and domicile in jobs and education sectors,” he said.
All these will be part of the party’s manifesto, which will be launched in Srinagar on Sunday and later next week in Jammu, Bukhari said.
However Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) J&K unit accused the top leaders of political parties who are under detention for fueling summer unrest of 2010 and 2016 stating that the decesion to release them will be taken “when system will feel all was well in the Valley.”
The party also announced its Nou Sanz—a new beginning initiative—to reach out to the people in all 133 blocks in J&K to get firsthand account of people’s grievances.
Addressing press conference in Srinagar, BJP’s General Secretary Organisation Ashok Koul said that not all but a few politicians are still under detention. “They are the same people whose activities fueled 2010 and 2016 summer unrest in Kashmir,” Koul said, without naming any political leader. At present three former Chief Ministers—Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti are serving detention under Public Safety Act (PSA). A few more leaders of National Conference and PDP have also been slapped with PSA while as IAS topper turned politician Shah Faesal was also booked under same act.
“They (leaders) were at the helm when 2010 and 2016 unrest took place,” Koul said. Asked when would be these leaders released, he said if they would be released now and allowed to carry out their activities, there are fears that Kashmir may again witness unrest. “So, the system will take a call about their release at an appropriate time when it would feel that things were completely normal,” he said.
Koul said that the BJP has already welcomed the restoration of access to social media but urges the people and the students and youth not to misuse it.
To a query about whether BJP welcomes the launch of new party by the former PDP leader Syed Altaf Bukhari led team of politicians, he said that they welcome any political process. “We would have been more glad if they would have joined us. But they have their own thinking. We will provide them moral support,” he said.
Asked when the delimitation would take place, Koul said that things are in motion for setting up the delimitation commission. “One member of the commission has already been nominated by the Election Commission, other members will soon be announced. I believe, there would be first delimitation exercise for distribution of 90 seats as only seven seats have been added. Elections will follow the exercise,” the BJP leader said.
He also announced that on March 7, Prime Minister will address people of Pulwama district where Minister of State for Jan Aushadi Yojna will also be present. Koul said that BJP leaders will visit all the 133 blocks of J&K and take stock of peoples’ grievance and submit a report to the J&K Lieutenant Governor Girish Chander Murmu for immediate redressal of peoples’ woes and issues.