Calling National Conference (NC) led government as a “den of dacoits” and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, as a “party of brokers,” Dr Hina Bhat, daughter of former NC leader, Muhammad Shafi Bhat, who is contesting from Amira Kadal constituency on a BJP ticket, in a freewheeling interview with Authint Mail, says joining BJP is an act of ‘jihad’ for her.
BY NAZIR GANAIE (Authintmail)
AM) Why did you join politics?
HB) After being closely associated with the National Conference and seeing the way they have been doing things for people, nothing really could attract me. Same was the case with Congress and PDP. Since BJP formed government at the centre, they have done what they promised. They want to handle Kashmir issue with Kashmiriyat and in a democratic way. Everybody is working very strongly for BJP and so am I. I believe the flags of BJP will rise in Kashmir soon. We are trying to build up the party in other regions too. When I am with BJP, it means I have devoted myself to strengthen the party.
AM) For a good number of Kashmiris, BJP is synonymous with ‘anti -Muslim riots’, ‘massacres’ and ‘mayhem’. Did you ever consider that before joining the party?
HB) There is no party in Kashmir that is owned by people. At least BJP has won through a majority vote in centre and I know they have respect for women with determination and confidence. I knew joining the party was going to be a very tough decision, keeping the Kashmir context in mind, but it is the job of any leader to convince his people through good governance and development.
AM) Do you face any tough words from people, being a BJP leader, or land in situations where you have to justify your association with the party?
HB) Yes, sometimes, but I have my own way to convince them. That’s the reason I believe joining BJP from Kashmir is a jihad for me.
AM) Can you elaborate what kind of ‘jihad’ is this?
HB) See, I have joined politics to clean the system. I am a Kashmiri first, then a Muslim first and then a BJP leader. We know what our state has been going though from last three decades. The corruption has gone up. There is no governance, no development and minimal prosperity. Innocent people are being killed for no sin or crime of theirs. Working in this system, giving people their share of benefits, to become their voice here, and in New Delhi, that is jihad for me.
AM) India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has a tainted past. Would he be able to woo voters in Kashmir valley?
HB) Look, I think he is charming and a versatile prime minister. He touches a chord with people. We have seen how people voted for BJP in the recent Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls. In Kashmir also, things are going to change. Achay din zaroor aayen gay (Good days will surely come).
AM) BJP’s is on Mission 44 plus to form its own government in J&K. How is your party trying to achieve this uphill task?
HB) No task is worth achieving unless and until there is hard work and commitment involved in it. With all this hard work, struggle and determination, people will see the change ahead. There is a speculation that there is BJP wave in Jammu and PDP wave in Kashmir. I must tell you that there is no PDP wave. Earlier, people in Kashmir had only two options, but now people will vote for us. I am sure about it. There is no comparison between BJP and PDP. I think there is only BJP wave across Jammu and Kashmir.
AM) The abrogation of Article 370 is high on the agenda of BJP? Your comments?
HB) Unfortunately, some political parties are misleading the people that BJP is after Article 370. Show me on record where anyone from BJP has said they will dissolve Article 370. It was only Dr Jitendra (MoS PMO) who gave his point of view, not the verdict. I am going to say goodbye to BJP if the party abrogates Article 370. I will pick up the gun against people who think of abrogating it.
No matter how powerful and how absolute majority the BJP government enjoys at the centre, it can’t abrogate Article 370. The only way they can abrogate Article 370 is by dissolving the present J&K assembly and create a new constituent assembly, as it existed in 1951, which is not possible.
AM) So you mean to say that BJP is not for abrogating Article 370?
HB) Yes. And if it still does, I told you my views. More than anything else, Kashmir is dear to me, but as far as I know, BJP has a focus on restoring the lost Kashmiriyat.
AM) You talka lot about ‘Kashmiriyat‘. What does it means to you?
HB) (Laughs) Kashmiriyat to me means when our Kashmir inhales a pollution free air, an air clean of all the turbulences, when Kashmir will have its autonomy, its own prime minister and a special status.
AM) Do you believe, with these views, you can sustain in BJP for long?
HB) Of course. Why not? When I first met Modi ji and his team, I shared same views there also. I believe when you are sincere, it takes no time to achieve your goals.
AM) Did you get any offer from any other political party from Kashmir?
HB) Congress approached me and then National Conference also approached me. One of its sitting MLAs came with an offer, but after many deliberations with my father, I chose not to join it. They had been promising a lot to me, but delivering nothing.
AM) What are your views and BJP’s views about Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)?
HB) My views are crystal clear that BJP will not remove AFSPA till things get normal here. Everyday, something happens. Militant activity is so much here that they cannot lift it.
AM) There is a strong voice of chief minister Omar Abdullah and also by people of Kashmir that the draconian law should be revoked? Your take!
HB) Well, this isn’t something in my hand. There is a consensus that if the Army leaves, it will not take Pakistan even half an hour to occupy us. It will not take 10 minutes for China to occupy us. This force is Indian. You do not have threat from India, but you definitely have one from Pakistan.
AM) How are you going to fare in this election?
HB) I will win.
AM) What preparations have you made in run up to your debut election?
HB) I am not a new entrant to politics. My father has been a great inspiration and mentor for me. I believe things will improve and Kashmir will witness a change soon. I have seen the number of orphanages growing, and the plight of women and their suffering increasing. I want to change that. I want to bring happiness to their lives.
AM) How will you do that?
HB) (Laughs) I will work with utmost dedication.
AM) How much work needs to be done in your constituency?
HB) Not even five percent work has been taken up. The sitting MLA has been a complete failure. It feels I am walking through a village, a far-flung village. In Natipora village, I saw one house. I saw it completely covered with wires and rubber sheets. This is a shame on Omar and his cabinet.
AM) How would you rate Omar Abdullah as a chief minister?
HB) There are only dacoits and incompetent people in his cabinet. He has been a complete failure
AM) Do you see any hope in PDP’s president Mehbooba Mufti?
HB) Honestly speaking, she has lost it. During floods, I was expecting a lot from her, but she was nowhere. PDP is worse than NC.