People’s Conference leader Abdul GaniVakil tells Yawar Hussain that if Kashmiri leaders have to wait for Supreme Court verdict on Article 370, then what was the purpose of forming a common front
Kashmir Life (KL): Why have you have questioned Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’s (PAGD) sincerity?
Abdul GaniVakil (GV): In politics, when bigger parties come together they always have reservations and problems with one another. I have already informed my party that the PAGD has no logic and rationale because the NC and PDP have fought each other since long. How can they come together?
KL: Are you suggesting the PAGD is rudderless?
AGV: I heard the PAGD President Farooq Abdullah’s speeches. He has been saying that they will wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on Article 370. How is that different from the BJP’s stand? Every party in the rest of the country is saying the same thing. If everybody is waiting for this only then why the PAGD was formed? There should have been a full-fledged programme for restoration of our special status.
KL: What should be this full-fledged programme be like?
AGV: Something which is new. Something that the people will believe in. If there is a unity only for elections or for grabbing power then I have my doubts on this alliance. It seems they have no plan at all. Something seems to be hidden behind this coming together of former rivals. The programme can be to protest democratically by reaching out to the masses, democratically pressurizing the central government. People will see what sort of drama this is? Such dramas have only created trouble for the people. This same leadership of PAGD in the past made many promises individually which were never fulfilled.
KL: Are you implying that PAGD won’t last?
AGV: I don’t think this alliance would last for much longer because barring the PC, the other two parties—NC and PDP—seem to be driven by power. Biggest disease in Jammu and Kashmir is the lust for power.
KL: Then why is the PC still a part of the PAGD?
AGV: I had voiced my reservations but our chairman (Sajad Lone) is sincerely a part of this alliance. He might not agree with my reservations but I have asked him that we need to introspect because I fear that they (PDP-NC) will drown us with them. I told him that they might be using us to save themselves from the sins they committed in power.
KL: And what are these sins?
AGV: We have seen corruption ruining Jammu and Kashmir for decades. We have seen politicians built empires. If the central government wants to probe these cases without settling political scores through this then Peoples Conference is with them.
KL: Are you saying the PAGD constituents have come together to shield themselves from corruption cases?
AGV: When there is no programme, it seems that the PAGDhas some hidden programme. Some other motives could be behind this, which we don’t know about. If they had something for people’s benefit then we would have seen it till now. It seems a power game after the PAGD contested DDC elections.
KL: Is it all a power game then?
AGV: I want to ask Gupkar Alliance leadership who they united against in Kashmir in the DDC elections. BJP was a competitor in Jammu but in Kashmir, they (PAGD) fought one other. Which forces were anti-Kashmir in the Valley? By coming together only the BJP and its B-team ended up on the second number in these polls because of the PAGD. BJP would have been routed in Jammu if we would have allied there only.
KL: Is Jammu and Kashmir divided on regional lines then?
AGV: Yes, that is why we couldn’t sweep elections as we had anticipated. Communal forces got consolidated in Jammu and BJP gained from it. Even though they didn’t win many seats in Kashmir, they benefited here also because of this PAGD alliance. We have to admit it.
KL: Is PAGD detrimental to the PC?
AGV: Yes, staying in the PAGD is politically detrimental to the PC because our leadership is true to the cause we have set out before the people. There is also a need for young leadership in Jammu and Kashmir, which our party possesses. Also, the younger leadership should now refrain from lying to the people, which we (PC) don’t. I expect Sajad (Lone) Sahab to tell the truth to the people even if it hurts anyone.
KL: Who is playing this power game in the PAGD?
AGV: When we showed to the people that we will fight against one another in the DDC and even Panchayat elections they can now gauge what we will do in an assembly election as and when it is conducted. We showed that we can stoop to any level for power.
KL: Are the DDCs going to change the grass-root level problems?
AGV: Anything would change on the ground only when the people at the helm of affairs are honest. There is no development on the ground. There is no sea change. If the same happens under the new DDCs then it will meet the same fate.
KL: Will PC remain part of the PAGD?
GV: I can’t say that but after our party meeting, we will know an answer to this soon. We will see whether they agree with my view or not. Our party listens to everyone’s viewpoint. If they won’t agree with me then I would support what they believe in. I have raised these points because posterity would see what I said.
KL: How has Jammu and Kashmir fared on various indices since 5/8?
AGV: We lost statehood also. The central government has abolished the Jammu and Kashmir civil services cadre. The industrial sector is being decentralised in a manner in which the interests of Jammu and Kashmir will be hit badly. The central government should live up to its promise of restoring statehood because delay in it is alienating people here. Tourism and fruit industry is suffering. The common man is under mental stress.
KL: Who is responsible for 5/8?
AGV: Prime Minister should also understand that Kashmir is an issue. We can’t brush it under the carpet. Article 370 was a bridge between Jammu and Kashmir and India. The central government is responsible for it. They misused their mandate in the parliament. BJP discredited all the sacrifices of mainstream workers and leaders through this decision.