Describing the Abdullah and Mufti families as the "torch bearers" of the national flag in Jammu and Kashmir, Apni Party president Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari on Tuesday said he would like to give them full credit for having this region with India.
"I have a lot of respect for both the families (Abdullah and Mufti). They have a contribution not only for this region (J&K) but for the country as a whole," he told reporters here.
Responding to a question about these leaders' influence on people with their "emotive slogans", the former minister said, "I ask myself was the contribution and the sacrifices of the two families for this country less. "Is it not a fact that they were the torch bearers of the Indian flag in J&K. If we are with India, it is because of these families - at least one of the families openly and the other covertly. So I would like to give them credit for having this region with this country," he said.
However, he attacked the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of seven mainstream parties including National Conference headed by Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP, and claimed that the alliance had crumbled sooner than they expected.
"We never accepted this alliance as a people's alliance. It was an alliance of the parties for the parties. They had to face the public and thus created a smoke screen. Anything on the foundation of a lie will crumble and it has crumbled sooner than we expected," he said. Bukhari thanked the people for voting Apni Party in the recently held District Development Council (DDC) elections and said an overall vote share of 5.5 percent is encouraging for a party which is just nine months old.
"We came before the people with slogans of achievable issues and politics based on truth. We did not raise any emotional slogans as was the practice over the last 72 years," he said, adding "we could withstand the pressures of all that emotional politics which has been an important ingredient of politics in J&K for the last 72 years." In response to another question about the growing rift between the two regions of Jammu and Kashmir over trivial issues, he said both the regions have proved that they are above this politics.
"Had there been a say of the politicians, you could have seen a war. People's will is running and they have lived for the last 72 years with love and brotherhood and will continue to live in harmony and peace with each other. The people know what some politicians do," he said. Bukhari welcomed the tourist arrivals in J&K from different parts of the country but was critical of the government approach.
"No doubt COVID-19 is a challenge but we have to move ahead. The tourists from different parts of the country have started coming on their own. There is no government initiative which is evident from the fact that the air fare between Jammu and Srinagar is selling between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 and outside locations to over Rs 25,000. The government is nowhere and we do not see it," the JKAP leader alleged.
He also criticised the government for its alleged failure to ensure better coordination among the members of the panchayati raj institutions and government officials. "We have a serious question whether the government officers are ready to work with the newly elected DDCs. Have they worked with Block Development Council (BDC) members and panches and sarpanches?" he asked, adding the "answer is no as nobody is ready to listen".
Bukhari also urged the administration to gear up the official machinery and provide relief to the people affected by the recent incidents of fire and earthquake in the Chenab valley region.