By Sheikh Qayoom
Srinagar – Hectic political activity is going on by ”like-minded” politicians of Kashmir to stitch a new party whose agenda according to them would be “purely be to address the problems of the common man”.
The litmus test for such an alternative would be the ability of these ”like-minded politicians” to sink differences to emerge as a real challenge to the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which have been marginalised by the BJP led Central government by placing their top leadership behind bars and banning their political activity.
Insiders say the new political formation has the blessings of New Delhi that is keen on revival of genuine mainstream political activity after the over six-month long hiatus that followed the abrogation of Article 370 and downgrading the state to a Union Territory.
“How long can one go on lamenting for something that is gone and buried? How long can the common man continue to suffer till we achieve the unachievable?” said one of the leaders associated with the new dispensation.
“There are pressing problems of unemployment, crumbling economy, devastated tourism, industry, trade and other bona fide activities in the state. Can this wait endlessly till we reach a point of no return?
“Let those who live in the past fight to achieve what they have been promising the people. Our aim is to let education, employment, trade, tourism, agriculture, horticulture, etc., take the front seat and we are committed to work towards a better, peaceful and prosperous tomorrow for J& K”, he said.
Group of like-minded politicians includes former PDP minister and businessman, Altaf Bukhari, former PDP minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, and former MLA Usman Majid besides others.
The group is likely to announce a new political party that would include faces from both the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region.
PDP o-founder Muzaffar Hussain Beigh is also believed to be on board to ensure that the political impasse is broken to sort out the problems of the common man.
In this regard, political observers are giving significance to a recent meeting between BJP national General Secretary Ram Madhav and Altaf Bukhari. The meeting was reportedly held in the famous Gulmarg ski resort last week.
Although sources close to Ram Madhav said it was a ”chance meeting”, but the meeting happening in a hotel to which Bukhari drove from his hut in Gulmarg could not be a mere chance.
Local grapevine has it that the meeting was previously planned to discuss the final nuts and bolts job before the new party is announced.
Usman Majid, who last week deserted Congress, to join the group has categorically said that a new political formation would soon be announced.
He, however, declined to call it the third front arguing that since there was no first or second political front in the Union territory, it would be unfair to call the new party as the ”third front”.
While it is now certain that the announcement of the new political party christened as ”Aap Ki Party” is just a matter of days, what remains to be seen is whether or not the party would catch the imagination of the common man.
There are many road blocks those have to be cleared by Altaf Bukhari-led group in order to provide a political alternative, especially to the people of the valley.
“Once bitten is twice shy. We have had political combinations in the part as well, but those proved to be just self aggrandisement and nothing else. Time alone will prove whether the new party would be old wine in new bottles or a genuine people friendly political party to take us out of the present mess”, said Muzaffar Ahmad, a retired college principal.
Former minister and head of the Peoples Conference, Sajad Gani Lone has already made an attempt to provide an alternative to the people against the NC and the PDP.
Former IAS topper, Shah Faesal also launched a new political party in Jammu and Kashmir before he and Sajad were placed under detention.
Would Altaf Bukhari-led group be able to work together with Sajad and Faesal or would the three fight each other while claiming to provide an alternative to the well entrenched NC and the PDP in the Valley?
The success of any political alternative in Kashmir depends upon unity among these ”like-minded” politicians.
If all of them keep on fighting among themselves they would only prove that the idea of providing an alternative to the NC and PDP can only be toyed with, but not put to practice so easily.