JK News Today Special

Srinagar, December 30:

The nine- -month old Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party has created ripples in Kashmir politics. A number of newly elected members in the recently concluded District Development Council polls have started veering around the newest party that polled more than 5 per cent votes in the opening innings in the electoral politics where veterans of decades were in contest.

The independent as also elected candidates of National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, have started veering towards the newest party soon after the elections.

Some of the independents were sponsored by the party itself in the DDC polls, and as it was expected, they formally joined the party soon after the elections. Others have also started getting attracted toward the party for they believe that the party has an agenda that is deliverable.

The Apni Party, as it is better known among the friends and rivals, has made its mark as a party that believes in realism. That is what has attracted the newly elected DDC members of other parties to join the party. It is passionately insisting on early restoration of the statehood of J&K and Assembly elections.

Its president and founder Altaf Bukhari, who had served as Finance Minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government, has been stating it from the day of the founding of the party (March 8, 2020). He had declared that Apni Party’s prime goal is restoration of statehood and the Assembly polls.

This has made a major difference in Kashmir politics. National Conference, PDP, People’s Conference, the traditional parties of Kashmir, launched a new conglomerate “People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.” The Alliance pledged to restore the the special status of J&K as it existed on August 4, 2019, and it would not engage in any political activity until such time its goal is achieved. But when the DDC polls were announced, the alliance broke its own pledge.

The Government of India scrapped the Article 370 and Article 35A that accorded special status and exclusive privileges to J&K on August 5, 2019 decimating the narrative of J&K being different from other states in the country. The GoI went a step further and divided the state into two Union Territories of Ladakh, and J&K.

This is where Altaf Bukhari raised his voice and demanded that Delhi should restore the statehood to J&K. He referred to the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the floor of the parliament promising statehood to J&K, while Ladakh will be UT without legislature.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated it from the ramparts of red Fort on August 15, 2020, that Jammu and Kashmir will have Assembly elections and its own government with Chief Minister and ministers.

These two statements of Prime Minister and Home Minister stand as a validation of Altaf Bukhari’s stand. This has been understood clearly by the people and the newly elected DDC members, in particular.

Here, it is important to note that, before, during and after the DDC polls, several political leaders, including former ministers, legislators were joining the party.

Critics charge the Apni Party with encouraging horse trading, and also using its power to lure the elected DDC men and women. These charges sound hollow because the DDC members would join the party where they see their future. And if the power is consideration, then they should have joined the BJP, or moved to NC and PDP, the parties that had been the documented allies of the BJP while they ruled the erstwhile state of J&K.

In politics, power is a significant factor but the longevity of the political careers matters more. That’s where the people and leaders see their prospects bright in Apni Party.