I don’t make fake promises to people: Altaf Bukhari
Post by on Saturday, April 23, 2022
Senior politician and President Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, who describes his exit from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as ‘freedom,’ says that after being ‘thrown out’ of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he almost decided to leave politics, but the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, which occurred on August 5, 2019, made it to a complete paradigm shift for him.
“If abrogation of article 370 and 35 A would not have happened on 5 Aug 2019, I would not have been in politics as I almost had made up the plans to leave politics after I was left out by the PDP”, says Altaf Bukhari.
In an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir’s Special Correspondent Jahangir Sofi, Altaf Bukhari speaks on the need to restart the democratic process and various other issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.
You said that you were thrown out of PDP. What were the reasons?
The reason why I was asked to leave the PDP was the difference of opinion with the leadership of PDP. I was not ready to compromise with my political opinions and beliefs with other people having opposite opinions.
After your exit from PDP, how did you perceive the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A?
Decision of repealing Article 370 and 35 A led to a complete paradigm shift in me. With a thought of what is going to happen to the people’s mandate and their belief they have been posing on democratic system and process, the times gave me sleepless nights.
Being in power for me was never necessary but to serve the people was my goal, as the practice of serving the people had been my family legacy. After I was left out from PDP, I still continued to serve the people in my own individual capacity, for which I used my personal office.
Tell us about the formation of the Apni Party?
Apni Party came into inception with a purpose to end the 70 year old exploitation of innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir. The purpose of forming the Apni Party was to address the day to day and common issues people are facing in J&K. Unlike other political parties who don’t make big fake promises and assurances.
How do you look at the current situation and the current form of governance?
Bureaucracy is never an alternative to democracy. People are feeling at the marginal side, and are not involved in decision making. In J&K a political process that aims to create conditions where people have a say in all aspects of life, is urgently needed. There is disconnect, what is needed on ground is missing.
People already knew you as a politician, how was it for you when you approached people after you framed your own party?
After the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, Apni Party was the only party who made a start to reach out to people on ground as other parties had nothing to deliver. Amid trust deficit reaching out to people was not easy, people were not ready to welcome, but we ensured the fabric of democracy remained intact.
What does your party stand for and what it has for the people of J&K?
Apni Party was formed on 8 March 2020, with an aim and purpose that the party describes itself as being "of the commoners, by the commoners and for the commoners".
Apni Party is ‘people centric’. One of the key demands of party is full restoration of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir and is of the belief that government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir should be reserved for long standing residents of the region.
What are the major demands of your party?
Among the primary demands of the party is the restoration of democracy in the region. People are so estranged that they believe everything has been taken from them, not just Article 370 and 35 A.
Keeping people away from the grass root democracy will further alienate them and this is the right time to restore the democratic process.
How do you respond to the announcement of the Union Home Minister of holding assembly elections in J&K?
Announcement by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah of holding the assembly elections in J&K in September, October this year is a welcome step and we are looking at it very positively.
You have been a critic of what you call ‘government run by bureaucrats’, what are your reservations?
Bureaucracy can never be an alternative to democracy, but there is no denial to the fact that the LG led administration is also trying to help and reach out to the people, but if bureaucracy would have been the alternative, then there would have been no need for democracy in the country.
A politician has a grass root connection with people and has it’s own way of handling the people’s issues and democracy is a healer. Though there has been a long disconnect but it is the beauty of democracy as the process starts, it itself becomes healer and fills the gaps.
What is your position on the exercise of the Delimitation Commission?
Our party has already expressed the reservations on the delimitation process, the way it was carried out and we have already shared our objections, suggestions with the commission.
It has been almost two years now and they have collected all the data, what else they have to do, however if the delimitation commission is a smoke screen to keep the people of Jammu and Kashmir away from grass root democracy then it is something different.
How do you look at the politicians switching to different parties?
As far as the switching of politicians to different parties is concerned it is part and parcel of the democratic process and this is not happening for the first time and happens in other places also. I see this as a happy trend and every party is strengthening themselves.
How do you look at PAGD and their agenda for reversal of the Aug 5, 2019 decision?
I don’t want to fool people with fake promises and assurances on reversal of Aug 5, 2019 decision, but yes the matter is pending in the Supreme Court and our case is very strong and I wish the judgment in the matter should come as per the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Only the Supreme Court can help in restoration of article 370 other than that there is no other way, as we have just 5 parliament members. Delhi is not deaf to our demands, our party will continue the struggle for the restoration of Statehood.
Your party is being accused as a B- team of BJP, is that true?
I want to ask those who are questioning and accusing Apni Party as the B-team of BJP, to ask themselves whether we are the allies or they have been the allies. It is time to ‘take and bring’ from New Delhi, as we believe that whatever was left was taken, now the Apni party has come into fore to bring something from Delhi for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
My interest is peace in J&K, and today one can see the glimpses of peace and tourists are coming in good numbers and for that I must congratulate people of Jammu and Kashmir for keeping peace, love and brotherhood intact.
What will be your immediate priorities if you are in power?
For me the immediate priorities for people in J&K will be education and rejuvenation in the health sector. It is we in Kashmir who have to deliver it to the people of J&K and New Delhi has to listen to our demands and requirements.
I reiterate that my party men are answerable to me, and I am answerable to people of J&K and I am committed to make a point on that.