“Creation of some regional parties in Kashmir is based on the ideology that Kashmiri vote should not go to a single party i.e. NC”

NC leader and incumbent state Finance Minster Abdul Rahim Rather, who represents Charar-e-Sharief constituency for consecutive sixth time, tells Shams Irfan that mandate will remain fractured in Kashmir

Abdul-Rahim-RatherKashmir Life(KL): What are the challenges for NC in this election? And what are the expectations?

Abdul Rahim Rather(ARR): Every election is a challenge for any politician or a party. So this time it won’t be any different as far as I see it. As you know we are fighting this election in coalition with Congress so it would be an interesting contest. And let me tell you coalition candidates are doing well so far, so there is nothing to worry for NC. We have a strong support base across J&K so we are hopeful that we will win hands down.


KL: And what about the Modi factor. Is it going to impact the coalition prospects in Jammu region?

ARR: There is no Modi factor in J&K. I don’t see him making any impact here.


KL: Isn’t it strange that NC has not released it manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls? What is the plank that NC is fighting this election on?

ARR: As I already told you that we are fighting this election in coalition with Congress, which is a national party, and they have already released their manifesto.

KL: Coalition is a reality in politics now. But does being in alliance mean sacrificing your party’s ideology?

ARR: After 1984 there has been no single party in power in New Delhi. And Kashmir is no different as we also get affected by national pattern. In present day politics forming a government alone is least likely, thus coalition is necessary. In a coalition government one has to make compromises here and there in order to keep the show going.


KL: But didn’t coalition reduce NC to a small Kashmir based party. It is no more pan J&K party? 

ARR:  That is not correct. We have got members in Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir. Thus we are not Kashmir specific. In fact parties like PDP are Kashmir specific as they have just two MLA’s outside the valley.


KL: How difficult is it to convince your voter to vote for your coalition partner?

ARR: It is very difficult to convince them as you have at some point of time, prior to political alliance, spoken against your coalition partner before your voter. So it becomes really difficult to tell your voters that you have to vote for them as your party is in alliance. It is difficult to garner cent per cent votes for your coalition partner and that may have some sort of impact on ground.


KL: How do you see the emergence of PDP in Jammu?

ARR: Let us wait for the results first. At this point it is nothing more than a speculation. How they will be effect the electoral scene remains to be seen. Yes, they will get votes in two segments where they have MLA’s in the region, rest I don’t think they have made any spectacular progress in Jammu region.


KL: What will be the impact of small parties like AAP, AIP and PC in 2014 elections?

ARR:  These small parties are as good as independent’s who can simply upset the margins but won’t make any significant difference. In Lok Sabah elections number of votes polled are quite huge so 10 to 20 thousand votes hardly matter.


KL: In Jammu it is Congress or BJP and to some extent Panther’s Party. But in Kashmir there are many players. You have been in politics for a long time, how do you see it?

ARR: I think some people in Delhi didn’t like that NC is a dominating political force in Kashmir. So they deliberately created parallel regional parties to fracture the mandate and counter NC. It is alleged that PDP is formed by BJP. Despite New Delhi’s interference NC managed to rule the political scene in Kashmir for some time. But then eventually these new parties managed to divide Kashmiri vote, which was part of New Delhi’s game plan.


KL: How long the mandate is going to remain fractured? Why is it always NC versus others in Kashmir? Do you think you are being cornered deliberately? 

ARR: It is least likely now that any single party can manage to form the government or win majority on its own. The mandate will remain fractured in near future too as there is saturation in politics. As I already told you that creation of some regional parties in Kashmir is based on the ideology that Kashmiri vote should not go to a single party i.e. NC. So being the largest party in Kashmir we are automatically considered a competition by every new entrant. And anti incumbency factor also plays a key role in determining a party or individuals fate.


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