Wasn’t Accepted in Pro-Freedom Camp: Sajad Lone

SRINAGAR: Days after meeting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Peoples’ Conference Chairman Sajad Gani Lone said he was not an ‘acceptable entity’ in Kashmir’s separatist camp and everything wrong taking place within the camp was attributed to him.

In an interview, Sajad said that now when he has left the pro-freedom politics, the separatists can take the right decisions at a right time for themselves. “I can only tell you that I wasn't an acceptable entity within the pro-freedom camp. There was a total mismatch in terms of ideas. Now that I have left, they (separatists) are themselves the best judges to decide about the course of action they want to take,” Sajad said when asked about the differences he had with the pro-freedom camp six years earlier.

Over the reports of him being the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sajad said: “I am fully aware of my humble position in Kashmir politics. I don’t want to overestimate my position; neither do I want to underestimate it. My whole concept of being in politics is to be able to contribute to change in the most constructive form. I see electoral politics as a way of making J&K an economically viable entity, not dependent on doles. I would want to give a decade or so to politics and have the moral courage to groom a second line of leadership to take over. I would not want to remain glued to politics for the rest of my life. So let us see what chance we get to serve as. May be as an assembly member or a minister and if chance arises, may be as the head of the state. As I said I know my humble position and I have the patience to wait. I am in no hurry. But yes-- being in power gives you a much bigger chance to bring change in the political and governance systems.”

Castigating media for attributing wrong statements to him, Sajad said that he never put his hand on Quran and said he will never contest elections and that if the recordings are provided to him, he will not contest the elections. “I said at that time that I put my hand on Quran that I have nothing to do with the elections that were taking place at that time and neither did I put up any candidate in 2008 elections. If anyone brings me the recording that I have said I will never contest elections, I will do the same.”

Over Jammu and Kashmir’s unique identity and Article 370, Sajad stated that he would not only strive to protect it but would strive to restore its lost glory. “Achievable Nationhood inspires me politically. Article 370 is a pale shadow of what it used to be and has been eroded by successive regimes. It was eroded by Congress while partnering sometimes with National Conference and sometimes with the erstwhile state Congress leaders who now heads a regional entity. As far as I am concerned, I look at augmentation, enriching its content and economic powers. We are for enhancement in sync with today's realities. I look at enhancing Article 370. I want to make 370 richer, more intense,” Sajad said, adding that he promises to the people of Kashmir that if he is elected with good numbers, he will be the biggest guarantor of Article 370 and that PDP and NC are linked with the erosion of Article 370.

 My past is not linked to erosion of Article 370 or fake encounters or invoking of PSA, Sajad, son of Abdul Gani Lone a veteran politician and founder member of Hurriyat Conference said.

Taking dig at National Conference and PDP, Sajad said that both the parties were the experts in double speak. “Both of them follow a typical pattern. One statement in Kashmir publicly and a counter statement in Delhi privately.  Take the case of my meeting with Prime Minister. Publicly they have said nothing adverse but their known sympathizers have launched a vicious campaign on the social media. Omar was the minister in BJP government and Mufti was the Home Minister backed by the BJP government. They have to answer questions. I have no questions to answer. I met the Prime Minister of India and have every right to meet him.  Why is this whole song and dance being enacted. I made the mistake of entering an arena which they feel is monopolized arena of the two families. But the writing on the wall is clear. Change is clearly visible."

Over the question that why he chose the mainstream line when his father was a known separatist leader, Sajad said he is proud of his father and that his soul would be proud of his son. “He was Abdul Gani Lone and I am Sajad Lone. He was a different generation and I am a different generation. My father was the most liberal father. He never issued diktats to his children.”

Stating that he would not mind if his son tomorrow joins the separatist camp, Sajad said he would advice his son certainly not to pelt stones. “I will also tell children of other people not to pelt stones. I am not one of those persons who would be happy in watching the neighbor’s son pelt stones and reprimand their own children for doing the same.”   

Over the role of separatists in Kashmir politics in the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, Sajad remarked that both India and Pakistan must come forward to talk to the parties associated with Kashmir. “It is for us to convince Delhi on the need to talk to separatists. I can tell you with certainty that biggest enemies of separatists are PDP and NC. Publicly they say that New Delhi should talk to separatists and in Delhi they tell the government privately that separatists are non entities. NC and PDP see separatist camp as a threat. I don’t see it that way. I believe that talks should be held with them. BJP government has initiated talks with the separatists in the past. Everyone remembers that tenure of Vajpayee and how he initiated talks which were not unfortunately carried forward by the Congress government in the same spirit.”

Over the cancellation of the foreign secretary level talks in the past, Sajad said that one must not get excited by the ups and downs of diplomacy. “Diplomacy is all together a different world. There are ups and downs and there are movements of togetherness and movements of bitterness. ”

Sajad, a graduate from London School of Economics, while commenting on the Kashmir issue said, “My whole idea is that economics has made geography irrelevant. Role of economics in solution is greater than change in geography. You need to accelerate the economic activity rather than be focused or obsessed with redrawing the geographical borders. My stand is that role of economics is far greater than any other factor in resolving the conflict.”

 Affirming that there would be a big political change in Jammu and Kashmir after 2014 elections, Sajad said that after around 40 to 50 years, the state would for the first time get rid of the dynastic rule of NC and PDP. “Hopefully we will have a NC-less, PDP-less government.” (KNS)

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