Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 16
As the high-profile District Development Council elections in J&K draw to a close on December 19, senior BJP leaders are oozing confidence of the party doing well, including in Kashmir Valley where it never won a single seat in the erstwhile Assembly.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur says J&K will give a “decisive mandate in favour of BJP and reinforce that ballot is mightier than the bullet”.
“Is baar Kashmir ghati main kamal khila ke dikhayenge (Lotus will bloom in the Valley this time),” adds senior BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain.
Talking to The Tribune, Hussain said people have “complete faith in Prime Minister Modi and they are not talking of Article 370 but only development”. Excerpts of the interview
Q. What is your feeling towards the end of these elections?
A. The BJP is contesting these elections on the plank of development. As a party’ in charge, I have campaigned fearlessly, including in difficult parts. I want to tell the country that perceptions about J&K are not correct. People here want ‘jamhooriyat’ (democracy). Atal Bihari Vajpapyee had talked of ‘Insaniyat’, ‘Jamhooriyat’ and ‘Kashmiriyat’. Without ‘jamhooriyat’ there can neither be ‘insaaniyat’ nor ‘Kashmiriyat’. Our aim is to make J&K dynasty and corruption free and ensure democracy here. Mehbooba Mufti said ‘Bharat ka jhanda uthane wala nhi milega’. Let me tell her, not only is Indian flag flying high here we have also raised the BJP flag in places where these Kashmiri leaders may not have gone, places where people suffered due to militancy, witnessed encounters. People have faith in Narendra Modi, they consider him their elder brother, they are happy with what he has done for them.
Q. What was the feedback on Article 370 during your visit to these places?
A. Neither they talked about it nor did I. They know they as Kashmiris enjoy the same rights as Shahnawaz does as a Bihari. It (Article 370) is only an issue with Mehbooba Mufti and Gupkar Gang, not with people who want good governance, development, education, electricity, roads.
Q. Then what is the need to make a comparison between India’s Muslims and those in Pakistan as you did on Tuesday?
A. That statement was incomplete. I said it in Parliament in 2000 that there is no better country for Indian Muslims than India or a better friend than Hindus. Today let me add to it, they also have no better leader than Narendra Modi. The rights they enjoy in India, they do not have in any other country, and that is a fact.
Q. PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has made many allegations regarding not being allowed to campaign freely, rigging, security forces not letting people cast votes, in these elections?
A. They are completely baseless. I am also security covered and there are many places I am not allowed to go. Today, I wanted to go to Charar-i-Sharief but the administration did not allow me. Mehbooba is looking for ways to explain her defeat. I think she knows they have lost the election. Because of such high voting percentages our rivals are now scared. The voting percentage shows people have voted for ‘jamhooriyat, insaniyat and Kashmiriyat’. Our focus has only been development.
Q. You targeted your opponents, calling them ‘Gupkar Gang’?
A. When so many parties get together to gang against us, what should we call them? They are a gang of corrupt dynasts, which is why they are a gang. They have just got together to save their wealth, they have nothing to do with people. More than 90 per cent of our focus has been on people and development issues.
Q. What is your final assessment of your performance? The BJP is famous for giving exact figures.
A. I just want to say that in the Valley, where we did not have even a single seat in the Assembly, whatever we get we will welcome, consider it as blessing of people of Kashmir, their ‘dua’. If I give a number they will say Shehnawaz ne pehle hi bta diya. I am confident that lotus (BJP’s election symbol) will bloom in the Valley. ‘Is baar Kashmir ghati main kamal khila ke dikhayenge, Jammu main to kamal pehle hi khila hua hai’.