AAP plans high-profile entry in J&K politics

By giving priority to jobs and education, the party can make a difference according to the BJP and smaller parties.

By giving priority to jobs and education, the party can make a difference according to the BJP and smaller parties.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is gearing up for a significant foray into the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the assembly elections, from holding iftar parties in volatile and militancy-hit Pulwama to the National Conference (NC) strongholds of north Kashmir. Membership campaign is underway. Likely to happen by the end of this year.

The development is likely to destabilize smaller development-driven and ideology-based parties in the Valley and further trouble the BJP in the Jammu region.

attracting youth

In fact, AAP has been preparing the ground for its political entry in Kashmir and Jammu divisions for more than a year. It plans to include vocal and educated youth and avoid “leaders set up to hijack the party”.

“There were many MLAs and ministers wanting to join us. We have decided to focus on the common man, who knows what the bad condition of roads means, sounds like poor quality of education. We don’t want that. The youth should hijack the movement of vested interests,” said Dr Nawab Nasir Aman, General Secretary, J&K Chapter of AAP.

AAP is going door-to-door in Central, South and North Kashmir to take forward the discussion that the Kejriwal model is the only optimistic model for the conflict zone. Many youth activists from National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have joined AAP, but the numbers are not very significant.

“We don’t know how to do politics but we know how to build hospitals and schools. We did it in New Delhi. About 35,000 employees in Punjab were regularized by the AAP government in a day. We have more than 60,000 such workers. Which is not happening regularly in J&K,” Mr. Aman said.

avoid disputes

AAP has decided to stay away from the big political issues in Kashmir, especially Article 370 and 35(A). In fact, the AAP in 2019 voted in favor of the Centre’s move to abolish the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, an act that would make it difficult for the party to sell its agenda in the Kashmir Valley.

In a recent meeting of top AAP leaders with newly inducted workers in New Delhi, Cabinet Minister Imran Hussain in the Kejriwal government set out clear boundaries of talks within which AAP would operate in J&K. The party is limiting itself to raising issues of education and health, advocating for humanity and fanatical patriotism.

Katha has struck a chord with many young and aspiring politicians, especially in the Jammu region. Jawaz Ahmed of Doda, Chenab Valley, feels AAP is an alternative to the “unimaginable and traditional” regional parties like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the NC, which are rooted in their age-old political stand. Ahmed, who lost his father in the Kashmir conflict in 1993, expects AAP’s influence in the Muslim-majority Chenab Valley as well.

“My father died in the custody of security forces in November 1993. I understand the value of peace. I don’t see Jammu and Kashmir getting Article 370 and 35(A) back in the near future. Regional parties still You play veena on these issues. You talk about real problems like unemployment, road etc. I joined AAP for peace and respect,” said Mr. Ahmed, who recently joined AAP for PDP. The post of social media in-charge was left. He was among the workers of Jammu and Kashmir who joined the party in Delhi.

However, the Kashmir Valley, a conservative region where even the Congress took decades to win seats, could prove to be a tough nut for the AAP. But the party may destabilize the J&K Apni Party and smaller parties like the J&K People’s Conference (PC), which are unlikely to make the situation before August 4, 2019, the central issue of their electoral politics, and seek development. Will work on the agenda. In fact, PC’s Sajjad Lone, who was once the spokesperson of the five-member Gupkar coalition advocating the position on 4 August 2019, has already left the group to chart its electoral course.

But AAP’s interest will first be in removing the Congress in Kashmir, the declining political power across the country. The Congress has a vote bank in areas like Dooru Shahabad and Kokernag in South Kashmir and Bandipora and Uri in North Kashmir.

displace the BJP

Unlike Kashmir, Jammu province is seeing greater resonance with the AAP and daily public rallies point to the party’s growing acceptability. According to the party, more than 5,000 people enrolled in the party on April 6 in Jammu alone. An AAP spokesperson in Jammu said, “This storm in Jammu and Kashmir is not going to stop now.”

Congress was once dominated in the plains of Jammu division, especially in Jammu, Kathua, Samba districts. However, since the 2014 general election, the party has seen a steady decline, even as the BJP has grown by leaps and bounds. After August 5, 2019, BJP is being questioned by locals on issues of its employment policy, land laws, end of annual relocation of capital, ‘Darbar Move’, and allowing outsiders to take sand tenders . digging.

AAP has a chance to take advantage of the growing anger against the policies of the BJP in Jammu and the fall of the Congress. In addition, the Jammu region has a large Sikh population, who will also like AAP after its success in Punjab.

Balwant Singh Mankotia, former president of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, who recently joined AAP, said, “BJP does not allow leadership to grow.” For a long time there were rumors that Mr. Mankotia was joining the BJP. “AAP party gives freedom to work without compromising on discipline,” he said.

Taranjit Singh Tony, 50, a member of the District Development Council (DDC) from Suchetgarh, is also one of the three prominent faces of Jammu.

With a big smile, Mr Singh oversaw one of the biggest membership drives in recent times involving nearly 1,000 people from Kathua on April 13. The volunteers wearing Gandhi caps and mufflers surprised even the organisers.

“People are sewing their ‘caps’ and declaring their membership. There was a time when we saw the Modi wave. Now, what we see is the Keriwal tsunami. People are Mr. Kejriwal’s initiatives for the poor and middle class. It is spreading in Delhi and now in Punjab. We will repeat it here now,” Mr. Tony said.

He said the BJP’s popularity is declining due to its failure to fulfill its promises. “The BJP has done nothing for Jammu. It brought mining and liquor mafia here. Thousands of schools were closed. A local contractor has to go through a series of verifications from the police before participating in the tender process,” Mr Tony alleged.

He said that after the abrogation of Article 370, anti-people steps like land and jobs law were taken. “Outsiders were allowed to recruit in J&K Bank. Where is the promise to reserve jobs for locals? The pink picture painted after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 has now turned black. Common people Realizing the realities,” said Mr. Tony.

Shri Tony, who is planning to contest the assembly elections from Jammu South, said that the time has come to call the spade a spade. “We are a few steps away from a crisis like Sri Lanka. We cannot feed people the opium of religion alone,” he said.

According to APP data, about two lakh people from the plains of Jammu have joined the party in the last one month. The party plans to contest all 90 seats in Jammu and Kashmir. The entry of the party is likely to shake up the established political structures in the troubled Union Territory.