Apni Party: How I look at it
In his announcement about launching of new political party called the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Apni (own) Party’ (JKAP), former state finance minister Syed Altaf Bukhari certainly gave political analysts food for thought. The development also calls for the need to have long-awaited political arguments that were placed on the back-burner following the arrest of politicians that include some bigwigs.
Food for thought
Mr Bukhari, in a press release on Friday, revealed his intentions of floating a new political outfit. The main takeaway from Bukhari’s statement, as to his intentions, for me was: “I say that I cannot turn the clock back and restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir but I will work for the return of statehood and domicile in jobs and education sectors.” Mr Bukhari has reached out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir with his political priorities and it is only a matter of time before the latter choose to acknowledge those priorities or dismiss them. He also put forward suggestions with regard to handling of ongoing situation in J-K Union Territory and some of these suggestions that, according to me, warrant serious consideration include a) Educating people about the changed realities of the erstwhile state b) Show them achievable dreams. Before starting their new political innings, the politicians after their release will have, first and foremost, to come to terms with the fact that political realities in Jammu Kashmir have changed. These realities require that the political priorities are outlined anew in line with people’s needs. Before the revocation of Article 370, the circumstances that would shape the political priorities in J-K have materially and substantially changed. And it is going to be a daunting task for the politicians to determine the new political priorities and also win public approval for the same. It is a good thing that the changed realities, at least, provide a glimpse at how to make headway towards political priorities. To begin with, the people have to be apprised of these changed realities, no matter how bitter they may seem, by the politicians. Before going further, it is important to mention here that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. People are free to see things from a different perspective as regards current political situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Show people achievable dreams: What does it mean for me? It goes without saying that Jammu and Kashmir suffered a significant economic blow following the abrogation of Article 370 as the erstwhile state was placed under a lockdown. And there is a lot to do for the people even when Article 370 has been done away with. There is a dire need for immediate revival of businesses and thereof establishing a new set of priorities to put economy back on track.
Long-awaited political arguments
In absence of political activities, as Chief’s of major J-K political parties continue to be under detention, the JKAP has no potential opponent for now which may have challenged its political discourse. As India has a multi- party political system, the release of all political leaders is worth waiting for.
There is no denying the fact that political interests of people in Jammu are at odds with the political interests of people in Kashmir. It remains to be seen whether Jammu will get its own political party or the people will prefer to repose their faith in existing political parties.
However, bigger question that would be facing the JKAP is of its survival. If elections are delayed, which looks a probability given that the government has given go ahead to delimitation process, elections in 2020 seem unlikely. In such a scenario, how the new party will keep itself relevant is to be seen. Any new political party’s shelf life depends on the pace of political activities. The more the political activities, the more the party remains relevant. Therefore, if elections are deferred, JKAP would have to look for some political activities to remain in circulation. However, if the new party is allowed to form an interim government, as suggested by the rumour mill, it can translate its intentions into actions.