‘Time ripe to remove mistrust between Delhi and J&K’
Srinagar, Mar 8: Businessman turned politician Altaf Bukhari Sunday launched the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) here saying he will work to remove the “mistrust” between New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.
The 60-year-old, who is a graduate in agriculture science, announced the formation of the JKAP at his residence and was flanked by former MLAs and senior leaders of political parties like the National Conference (NC), the PDP, the Congress and the BJP, besides some former Independent legislators.
He was elected president of the JKAP unanimously.
Bukhari said his party will not hesitate to work in coordination with New Delhi if elected to power.
“Delhi has misgivings with people of Jammu and Kashmir and we too have misgivings with New Delhi. It is the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have a bundle of problems and nobody is going to resolve them unless we don’t approach and deal with the Centre,” he said.
“When we talk about Union Territory, a ruling party has to deal with New Delhi. We don’t look at New Delhi through the prism of who is ruling but Centre as a whole,” the former finance minister said.
He vowed to work towards restoring J&K’s statehood and ensure domicile rights of people in jobs and education, while saying demoting the state to a Union Territory was “unpleasant and bitter”.
Bukhari said the “lack of credible voices” in the Union Territory promote him and his team to formally form a new political party.
“People here feel the absence of credible voices that can take up their issues and get them sorted. So we launched a party which is led by commoners, for the commoners and of the commoners. This party is not floated by a family,” he said.
Bukhari said that his party will ensure that anybody who becomes its president cannot be elected more than two times.
“After August 5, a lot has changed. People are in despair, tourism is reduced to zero and local industries have closed down. In that view, challenges are huge. It is an endeavour to see how we can restore the semblance of these things,” the former finance minister added.
In his list of agendas, Bukhari said the party will primarily work for restoration of statehood, domicile rights on land and jobs, holistic and an equitable development of all the regions and dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits.
“We are not here to sell dreams and fantasies but will always be pragmatic, honest and fair in our approach. We have resolved to create a political platform where people are real stakeholders of the political process. We are a regional party with a national outlook,” he said.
Asked he was viewed as Kashmir’s next Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad for floating a party when three former chief ministers are under detention, Bukhari said the prevailing conditions in Kashmir and his conscience “didn’t allow him to remain silent.”
“Bakshi sahab had a political and economic vision, which is the need of hour. Situation of business in Kashmir is very bad and my conscience didn’t allow me to stay silent. My voice may not be relevant today but surely in future,” he said.
Bukhari denied of having any backing from BJP in floating the party in Jammu and Kashmir and said his decisions are driven by himself.
“It is a norm here that whenever anybody takes people’s stand, he is labelled as BJP’s man. Altaf Bukhari is individual and my decisions are driven by myself only. Our politics will be a politics of truth,” he said.
He further added that his party is concerned about the slapping of Public Safety Act on politicians and people after the abrogation of article 370.
Bukhari was accompanied by many leaders including Ghulam Hassan Mir, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, Usman Majid, Muhammad Dilawar Mir, Rafi Mir, Jagmohan Singh Raina, Muhammad Ashraf Mir, Vijay Bakaya, Shoiab Nabi Lone, Muhammad Yawar Mir, Manjeet Singh, Javaid Hassan Baigh, Advocate Manzoor Khan and others.