Not ashamed of meeting Modi, will change culture of politics: Lone

KUPWARA: Peoples Conference Chairman Sajad Gani Lone Tuesday said his journey from being a separatist to mainstream has been lovely and he enjoyed every moment of it and promised he will change culture of politics in Kashmir.

Lone, who left pro-freedom camp in 2009 after he unsuccessfully contested parliament elections has been making headlines since he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month and called him ‘big brother’.

“It has been a lovely journey (separatism to mainstream). I have enjoyed every moment of it. I had differences with separatist camp. I could not contribute,” Lone told reporters at Handwara before casting his vote.

He said: “I believe in dynamic evolution and as a part of evolution, you know, whether it is you or me, a person or a human being is not confronted by just one problem in life. There are multiple problems.”

The son of Late senior Hurriyat leader, Abdul Gani Lone, said Kashmir people have multiple problems and one of them is Kashmir issue. The separatist-turned mainstream politician, Lone, is contesting polls from Handwara Asssembly segment against National Conference’s sitting Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and minister, Chowdhary Ramzan.

When asked whether he regret of his separatist past, he said: I don’t regret anything in life. That was an experience. My ideology, political ideology, will always be inspired or will have shades of that, realistic shades where it started,” adding: “I don’t shun anything whatever I said I have a great belief that the people of Kashmir have been wronged and the wrongs need to be rectified.”

Lone, who is the son-in-law of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder, Amanullah Khan, said his ‘Achievable Nationhood’ if not solution but could be a topic of discussion if not solution

“It could set forth a discussion where in new ideas could come,” he said.

Lone said he was not ashamed of meeting Prime Minister Modi and said the campaign against him by different parties have ‘helped’ him. “The way they were against me I think they, by mistake and unintentionally, are campaigning against me and they have done a good job. They have helped me a lot,” he said. Lone said if he had done anything wrong by meeting Modi, he won’t have owned it. “I wouldn’t have marketed in front of you,” he said.

He slammed National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders and accused them of eroding Article 370.

Promising that he will change culture of politics if elected, Lone said: “Democracy means empowerment but in this area, democracy is dis-empowerment. MLAs after getting elected become Rajas…the same pre-1947 Maharaja rule. But (if we are voted to power) that rule will end. We will transfer power to people. This is a promise I made to them. We will empower the people,” he said, adding: “If I will be in opposition, it will be golden era of opposition and if I will be in power, we will make it golden era of power. This is my promise. We will be constructive opposition. In both ways, it will be a new phase.”

He went on saying: As an MLA I will stay in my home, no Lal batti (red lamp), no government vehicles, and no VIP lounges, nothing at all. It will be typically a new culture of politics.”

“You know MLAs in our party whosoever gets elected or if I am elected, will be non-interfering.  They will not thrust themselves on peoples’ lives. No vendetta…a new phase of politics Insha Allah!” he vowed.  

Alliance ‘options open’

Lone said all options for post-poll alliance were open and claimed that there will be complete rout of Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference in Kupwara district.

He said in Handwara there is contest between NC and PC while in some areas with PDP. “But, I think by all accounts, we can qualify...” Lone said there is enthusiasm among youth and elders and said ‘we are all hoping for the best…this is democracy’.

“See there are other phases of elections including in Baramulla, Srinagar and Budgam where there are our strong candidates. We will now shift the focus there. You will there too Insha Allah…we will do well there also.”

On being asked about alliance with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), he said: ““Let’s come, we will celebrate first and then we will decide where we would go. All the options are open…my all options are open. But, I would try to go where I can at least make a change.”

Hitting out at Kashmir press, he said the press is obsessed with the PDP and NC and not anyone else. “But if you see Aam Aadmi Party, they were given so much projection by press. It has been only since when I met Prime Minister ‘Sahab’ you are behind us. Otherwise, you were saying, he (Sajad Lone) is nothing, adding: “He won’t even win a single seat. Even ten people aren’t with him.”

 “So the role of press in Kashmir has been negative. They are obsessed with PDP and NC and don’t give projection to any third power. But, at the end of the day, people are supreme, not the press. It is a bigger message to press,” he added. (GNS)

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