'They Paint New Delhi as Devils': BJP's Srinagar Candidate Dubs Omar, Mehbooba 'Brokers' in Kashmir
BJP's Khalid Jahangir said that the elections will be a ‘referendum’ to show the people at the helm of affairs in Kashmir that an evil picture of New Delhi is being painted in the state.
Journalist-turned-politician Khalid Jahangir. (Image: Aakash Hassan/News18)
Srinagar: People of Kashmir hate mainstream politicians because of their deceit, said Khalid Jahangir, the BJP candidate from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. The journalist-turned-politician has been pitted against National Conference supremo and three-time chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah in the impending Lok Sabha elections.
Hopeful of winning the polls, Jahangir said that this election will be a ‘referendum’ to show the people at the helm of affairs in Kashmir that an evil picture of New Delhi is being painted in the state. Abdullah won the 2017 by-election from the Lok Sabha constituency of Srinagar as the voter turnout stood at 7% with clashes and protests claiming eight lives. However, Jahangir exuded optimism in the future of BJP, which he said is taking baby steps in the Valley.
Speaking to News18, the 42-year-old BJP leader discussed vital issues in Jammu and Kashmir such as militancy, Article 370 and 35A, among others. Here’s the full interview.
Q. Why should people in Kashmir vote for BJP, which is being seen as an anti-Muslim Party?
A. I joined the party in 2014. Honestly, I don't see any difference at the organisational level in national parties — the BJP and the Congress. Both the parties work towards national interest. People know about the Congress party. Everything bad which is happening in the valley is mainly because of the Congress party. However, my aim in this elections is to convince more and more youth to join national parties as that is the only way to come closer to New Delhi. The local parties act like brokers in Kashmir and there are many such parties.
Q. Why do you call local parties in Kashmir as brokers?
A. They lie to the people. Their domain is only to provide good governance. Their job is to go to the Parliament and speak about the basic problems of the people but they don’t do that. They talk about bigger issues. I think separatists are more honest than these parties. The separatists get support from Pakistan and they are working for them, they are on their side with all honesty. But our local-party leaders are not loyal to their own country. They praise Pakistan here and in Delhi, they show patriotism.
Q. What do you think is the main problem, the development or the Kashmir issue?
A. Kashmiris need peace and dignity and whatever we need, we can only get from New Delhi. Nothing can be gained from either Pakistan or separatists. Neither can you get anything from Mehbooba Mufti, and Omar Abdullah. These people come into power (Omar and Mehbooba) to mint public money and get their families into the political fray. They are the beneficiaries of this conflict. So, I think we need the youth to get closer to New Delhi, which I see as our guardian. When true voices will reach the parliament there will be no issue.
Q. Since the BJP came to power in the state and the centre, Kashmir has witnessed record violence and a huge increase in local militancy. So, didn't your party fail in handling Kashmir?
A. We were in coalition with the PDP and Mehbooba Mufti had the reigns of the state and she was also the home minister. She failed as a leader which is why we decided to come out of the coalition. I even think Omar Abdullah was a better chief minister than Mufti. He had a good system of governance. His command on security agencies was better than Mufti. Regarding militancy, it has seen a surge only in South Kashmir, which has been the bastion of the PDP. As I said, the PDP failed to deliver and that enraged people.
Q. BJP wants to scrap Article 370 and 35A, how do you see it?
A. I think this should be thoroughly discussed by the Kashmiri people. They must get involved and understand what the issue is as most of the youngsters don’t even know how these articles are impacting us. Looking at Dubai’s model of foreign investments, Kashmir can also follow its footsteps. They provide land to foreign companies, which make investments in billions of dollars in Dubai. That way we can also move forward.
Q. Kashmir is not Dubai. It is a political issue and don’t you think so?
A. I don't see Kashmir as a political problem, rather, I see it as an issue which needs to be dealt with differently. There are certain elements who gain out of this issue and are provoking people by invoking religious cards.
Q. Where do you see BJP in Kashmir?
A. We have not fully gained ground in Kashmir yet, unlike Jammu. But, we are taking baby steps. We are trying to work more at the grassroots and establish our party. I don't think I will win but I believe the elections will be a referendum to show how these powerful leaders have sown the seeds against New Delhi. I want to show them how a national party has got the lowest turnout. They have made New Delhi as the devil in Kashmir.
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