What makes this new political party in Jammu and Kashmir different from others? For starters, it is important that we keep the skepticism aside. And even more important would be to ensure that we don’t have a different set of rules for political parties or political leaders from the valley. The need of the hour is political engagement in the valley. The launch of this political party by a former PDP stalwart Altaf Bukhari marks the beginning of a new journey in the valley.
Speaking to Republic TV after the launch, Altaf Bukhari made a pertinent point. “We are not promising anything that we can’t deliver. We need statehood. We need to safeguard jobs and rights of Kashmiris,” he said. Such statements from a Kashmiri politician are a refreshing change from what we have seen in the past. It is often said within political circles, Kashmiri Netas sing a different tune when in the valley and a different tune when they are in Delhi. But Apni Party would run a huge risk if they follow this adage.
A closer look at the declaration of the party answers the question of why they could be different. For the first time, a party has openly declared their action plan for Kashmiri Pandits. “Restoration of Statehood, Protection of Domicile rights and jobs and dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits, empowerment of youth and women,” stated the party president. The party has taken a reasonable stand on Article 370. “SC is deciding on Article 370 and we would like to wait for its decision.“
The valley too has suffered due to dynasty politics. Apni Party vows to be different. “This will be a different party, not floated by any family. Anybody who becomes the President can’t hold the office for more than two times” declared the party president during the launch.
Altaf Bukhari also hinted at a pragmatic approach towards dealing with New Delhi. “We have to do business with Delhi. We have to deal with the Government of India regardless of who is in power in Delhi,” said Bukhari. It is high time that someone bridges the gap between Delhi and Srinagar.