‘It Is A Constitutional Fight. As A Peace Loving Party, We Will Fight Legally’

Asserting that nothing is decided as yet but even if the NC joins the Delimitation Commission, it will be for the benefit of the people, NC Provincial President, Nasir Aslam Wani tells Yawar Hussain

NC leader Nasir Aslam Sogami

KASHMIR LIFE (KL): Has National Conference been approached by the Union government for reconciliation?

NASIR ASLAM WANI (NAW): Personally if you ask me, I am not privy to any such thing but it is high time a political process is started in Jammu and Kashmir. People of the erstwhile state are suffering on all fronts. Post-August 5, everything has changed ranging from the change in politics, the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and even the governance systems due to bifurcation into two Union Territories. Few bureaucrats and a Lt Governor cannot run Jammu and Kashmir. Now it is high time that they (The government of India) reach out to the people.

KL: By talking about a need for a political process, are you letting credence to reports of an outreach by the centre?

NAW: As I said I don’t know but they should definitely reach out to everyone now. One cannot shut their doors to everything. In politics, it is better to resolve certain issues.

KL: Is it in this backdrop that you have conceded to be part of the Delimitation Commission?

NAW: Why are you assuming this? Whatever we have talked about till now about Delimitation Commission is confined to our inner party circle. We haven’t yet announced that we are joining it. There are some questions we have posed to the Commission and central government through letters. They haven’t yet responded. So how can it be assumed that whether we will join or not?

KL: Was the recent resurrection of the PAGD a ploy by your party to deflect attention from your joining the delimitation process?

NAW: I cannot respond to presumptions. In the last few months, nothing happened on the political and social scene because of the pandemic. So the meeting was in that regard.

NC’s Kashmir Province president Nasir Aslam Wani making a point in the assembly session. Pic: Bilal Bahadur

KL: Pandemic’s second wave hit in April this year and PAGD last met in December 2020. How do you respond to that?

NAW: One has to meet and discuss issues. We can’t meet to discuss the Kashmir weather. We needed issues to discuss. Dr Farooq Abdullah after the recent meeting said that whatever is the future course of action is to be based on consensus. That is better not just for my party but also for the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. NC is committed to doing anything and everything for the restoration of what we lost on August 5. This perception by a certain section of the media that there is a sell-out is false. Even if we join the delimitation process, it will only be for the good of the people.

KL: PAGD reiterated the same thing a few days back. What have they done since coming together?

NAW:  Nothing has changed on the ground as well. We are still the same. Whatever was snatched from us, we will fight for its restoration within the ambit of mainstream politics. It is a constitutional battle. We can’t just go to the streets and protest. As a peace-loving party, we will fight legally.

KL: Statehood has been promised by Home Minister. Some other parties have made it the agenda. Would NC fight an election without statehood?

NAW: This question is hypothetical. There is no election around.

KL: NC Vice President Omar Abdullah has said that he won’t fight till J&K is a UT. What about that statement?

NAW: That is his personal viewpoint. If you ask me about the party, I would say it is hypothetical right now. There is nothing on the horizon till now. When we reach the bridge we will then think of crossing it. Let them announce the election first.

KL: PAGD lost one of its constituent party’s. There were differences when you fought the DDC election. Would it survive till assembly polls?

NAW: You are bringing the question to the wrong desk. I am not in a position to answer on behalf of the PAGD. It has its own office-bearers. You can ask them about the future of it. My party is only a member of the PAGD.

KL: A Jammu Declaration has been propounded by your counterpart in Jammu. Has NC mandated it?

NAW: To be very honest, the party hasn’t mandated it so far. There is no discussion on it to date. But whatever my colleague has propounded, it is better for him to explain the parameters of it.

KL: Is it like the NC is propounding Gupkar Declaration here and a Jammu Declaration there?

NAW:  There is nothing like that. Nobody could be more honest than me on this. It has never been discussed to date. It hasn’t been raised in any party forum and neither am I privy to any such discussion. There is a proper policy and agenda of the party which is in the public domain.

KL: Has been asked to explain himself?

NAW: I cannot seek that from him. It is for the party general secretary to do that. I can only talk about the Kashmir division.

KL: Why hasn’t the NC’s bigwigs reached out to the Chenab valley and Pir Panjal areas?

NAW: Why would you say that? There has been our reach all across. Whenever there are working committee meetings, there is a leader from every region. When the party leadership asks for a ground report or an assessment, the regional leader presents that. Working Committee is a decision-making body and they are even part of that process. Also, to date, we haven’t left out Ladakh from the party’s ambit. We have a proper organisational setup in all regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

KL: On one side the BJP has been termed by your party as the mother of all sins but in Kargil, you are in an alliance with them. Isn’t that hypocritical?

NAW:  It is good that someone is asking this question to us. When the Kargil Council came up, there were certain independent councillors who joined hands with us to form the council. They were earlier with the PDP. They switched over to BJP when the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir happened. They have been switching parties. These men have also decided to disassociate from the BJP. We never tied up with any party. Also, I won’t deny that that arrangement is still heading the Kargil Council.

National Conference leaders during party convention at Kunzar area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla on Thursday, June 27, 2019.

KL: Are you saying that they are independents at this point?

NAW: I will have to check whether they have disassociated from the BJP or not but our local council has decided to either have a council with them as independents or to have no council at all.

KL: In the DDC elections, NC lost the posts of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of Srinagar. You contest from here. What happened?

NAW: You win some elections and some you lose. You can’t win all elections. We lost in the 2014 assembly polls.

KL: In 2014 polls you had anti-incumbency factor against you. What happened here?

NAW: DDC wasn’t the end of the road. You can lose an election. Also, everyone knows what really happened in the DDC polls.

KL: But the newly formed Apni Party managed to oust you in two districts of Kashmir valley. How did that happen?

NAW: Some things are better left unanswered.

KL: Are you suggesting something happened in these polls to help Apni party?

NAW: Not just something. A lot of things happened. Everything happened to secure seats for some people. We will now see when people are allowed to vote freely what will happen.

KL: But when you allege this then why didn’t it happen in districts you won in?

NAW: There are many things that Omar (Abdullah) sahib explained in his press interaction back then. We released the audio recordings of those things. NC has eight DDC members in Budgam and the support of two others out of 14. Still, the DDC chairperson isn’t from my party.

KL: Are you suggesting that the DDC Chairperson in Budgam was parachuted from the top?

NAW: It is no rocket science to understand that he was.  In which democracy does a party fail to secure a post when it has the support of 10 out of 14 members.

KL: Peoples Conference managed to win two districts in north Kashmir. Did they win on their own?

NAW: No, they didn’t win on their own. We gave them full support. In some cases their candidates couldn’t even file nomination papers; it was our office bearers who helped them in campaigning.

KL: Rumours have been rife during the past week. The LG Sinha came in to quell them after a week. Do you think the government is doing enough?

NAW: If you see all the rumours of 2019 came true. Now when the LG has come up then I think it is enough. We hope this is the end of the story.

KL: A ceasefire has been reached on the borders. Do you think it is a beginning towards a dialogue on Kashmir?

NAW: It is the best thing that has happened in the recent past. It should be something on Kashmir. Ceasefire in itself is a huge relief for the people living along the border on both sides. The more friendly these two countries the better it is for us. We are really glad this happened and hope that a meaningful dialogue is kick-started by this. I hope there is some solution and our future generations see better days.

KL: A report about fake domicile certificates being issued has been in the news. How would you respond to it?

NAW: It needs to be thoroughly probed. It is high time that we don’t get into such kind of scams so early in the day. If this starts now, I don’t know what would be the ramifications.

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