‘Khidmat-e-Awam’ my manisfesto

In an exclusive talk with Editor The Kashmir Magazine Mohammad Aslam Bhat, the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) Chairman and former chief minister Jammu & Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad talks on length of issues from Amarnath land row, statehood, elections, development to many other issues. He says when Amarnath land row erupted all regional political parties hit the roads and toppled my government. They held meetings and made issue out of ‘non-issue’ then. But today when BJP snatched every bit from them, why they kept graveyard like silence? Excerpts of the interview:

Kashmir Magazine

The Kashmir Magazine (TKM):
You have formed DPAP. What is the aim behind?

Ghulam Nabi Azad (GN Azad): Over one-and-a-half year I am in between my public holding meetings. Since I severed ties with Congress party and formed DPAP, I organized at least 550 public outreach meetings in length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir. I am not among those who show their presence only on the time of elections. In Jammu & Kashmir there are many political parties who remain busy in their businesses in five years and once elections come to near they reach to people and seek votes. But I want to clear that I am not among those politicians. I came to know one thing during my public outreach meetings that people by and large want change, a massive transformation on ground, but there are many political leaders who don’t want people and situation to change. I got wholehearted support of people in public meetings. Political parties exploit people on hoax slogans and people also know these politicians cannot bring change and only exploit people. But I want to break this chain. They destroyed J&K and its people through emotional slogans. Earlier they were talking of Pakistan who is itself on the verge of extinction today. Poverty, inflation, unemployment and uncertainty have badly enveloped the neighboring country. So I want people to see prosperous and developed. I don’t believe in exploitation.

TKM: What will be your modus operandi in the political arena of Jammu and Kashmir?

GN Azad: When I was Chief Minister of J&K I made people aware that development is the basic principal of politics. Politics is meant for development, but not exploiting people. It is meant for to construct schools, buildings, hospitals, roads, bridges etc. But it didn’t suit regional political parties then. I was getting CID reports on daily basis that these politicians are trying to topple my government. They were saying “he (me) has come here for twenty-years and will not return”. Then they made an issue out of ‘non-issue’ – Amarnath land row – and exploited masses against my government. All political parties started protests then. I want to ask them that today BJP government has taken away everything from you including land, job, employment, Article 370 etc but why no voice is being raked up from your side? Why you have kept graveyard like silence? Why your MP’s didn’t utter a single word against these injustices in the Parliament? They took shield of house detention but it is five years over now. They are free now, but still are silent which speaks their exploitative politics. They are scared if they talk about people’s issue they will be exposed in public for their wrongdoings they committed in their rule. They gave employment, land and other perks to their relatives only, but it is only Ghulam Nabi Azad against no person can level allegation that I have taken employment or grabbed land for any of my relatives. I had enough evidence against these regional political leaders that when and where they grabbed government land, employment and other things but I didn’t act like immature politician. I spent a long time in Congress but I never resorted to theft there. No one can point out a single fraud against me. My manifesto is to serve people, but not families; and I will continue my service without any hesitation.

TKM: What is the difference between you and other political parties?

GN Azad: In 90’s when Jammu and Kashmir was going through bad times it was only me who stood here to look after my people. During these times I survived twenty militant attacks. My sole aim is to empower people of Jammu and Kashmir and bring them out of politics of exploitation.

TKM: Article 370 is no more. How do you see it?

GN Azad: I was Leader of Opposition then when BJP government took away special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. Whenever I got an opportunity, I spoke vociferously in the Parliament for my people. I objected the decision. Though I was part of the Congress then, but the same was not willing to speak on the issue. Few Congressmen flagged up the concerns of Jammu and Kashmir over the decision. Even I spoke on every bill passed by BJP government in the Parliament post-August 05, 2019.

TKM: You are being alleged as B team of BJP. What is your reply?

GN Azad: Those alleging me as B team of BJP should introspect on their past. They served BJP at Centre and in Jammu and Kashmir as well. During Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee era who served minister in BJP government? Who formed coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014? Are they ready to accept the reality? I was not minister in BJP government ever.

TKM: Parliamentary elections are going to be held. Is there any pre-poll alliance in your mind?

GN Azad: I will never go for alliance. I will do alliance only with my own people. I want to tell my people that you have been diminished from State to UT and in other matters also. Don’t pay heed to those parties who exploit masses on hollow slogans. Don’t put yourself for exploitation. Now you (people) have to decide whether you will vote those who want developed and prosperous J&K, or those who want unending exploitation of people.