SRINAGAR: Insisting that his Peoples Conference (PC) is the “rapid and fast emerging third party” in Kashmir, Sajjad Gani Lone on Tuesday mounted a serious attack on the two “dynastic” parties – the NC and the PDP. Flanked by Junaid A Mattu and Irfan Raza Ansari, Lone said his party worked day and nights and made no noises and reached this level.
Lone, who had stopped talking ever since the BJPDP government collapsed, precisely talked about four things.
Firstly, if the NC and the PDP had “so-called” boycotted the municipal polls, wherefrom their corporators were born whom they started counting after the results? He said the heads of all the three parties -NC, PDP, and Congress, did talk on this and put in efforts as well.
“We are happy they were united,” Lone said, “We are happier that they lost.” He said the three leaders had confabulations on the issue of Mayor Election.
The two parties, he said, have not taken care of the city. “In Handwara which is a small town, there are 900 families registered under central sponsored scheme House For All,” Lone said. “In Srinagar city, there are only 3000 families listed.” He said they will work hard to improve the city.
Secondly, Lone said Congress is making a lot of noise about communalism and secularism. “They have ruled India for 55 years but why not a single Congress Prime Minister gets some respect in Kashmir as is the case of Atal Behari Vajpayee?” he asked. “They cannot accuse me of communalism. Instead, they must introspect.” Terming the Congress as the “dacoits of 1987”, Lone said they have “pushed us in a situation where we are still caught.”
In order to explain his alliance with the BJP, Lone said he is not the first one. Omar Abdullah was the BJP’s first ally and then Madam – reference to Mehbooba Mufti, was there till her government collapsed.
Without mentioning Omar, Lone said “I am not a chocolate boy” and when “the present leaders” were in Delhi, “I was being interrogated”.
Thirdly, Lone said they have put in a lot of efforts and should not be decided on basis of the low turnout. “There have been spells of high and low turnouts,” Lone said. “In 1996 NC was benefitted and in 2002 PDP was benefitted.”
“If Dr Farooq Abdullah can have three percent and still sit in the parliament, why are you after these poor councilors we got five percent?” Lone asked. “In comparison to Lok Sabha, this election is a gain.”
Asked about governor’s prediction, Lone said he might have had the perception that since PDP and NC are not contesting. “But we did not make any noise like Congress which is in a depression now,” Lone said. “I tell you not to belittle our effort; they (councilors) have conscience and morality.”
Junaid Mattu, in whose success the presser was apparently arranged, got into instant preaching mode as he took over the mike.
“We have to get over this delusion and this sadistic habit of celebrating the low turnout by taunting elected representatives,” Mattu said. “If you want to focus on a low turnout then ask Dr Farooq Abdullah, ask him, why you are sitting in the parliament with low turnout.” He said low and high turnout is not the responsibility of the candidates. “If you want to celebrate the low turnout that is your choice but the low turnout has been a phase in by-poll, and Lok Sabha,” Mattu said. “If you see the mainstream as a joke, the discussion is futile. If I had a high turnout, I would still be irrelevant to you but the mainstream is relevant.”
Mattu said he has never side allying with BJP is poison. “Omar Abdullah allied with BJP at a time when we had no compulsion,” Mattu said. “Had he 20 seats in last assembly election, he would have set up a government with BJP.” He said people may take a moral high ground on the issue but the fact is that BJP is a reality. “We have lawmakers from Jammu who won with one lakh votes. How can we discredit them?” Mattu said he had problems with the NC when he was there. He said he was against the boycott of the municipal polls.
Earlier speaking to the media at SMC, Mattu termed it “a historic election” and “the new beginning”.
“The state has changed and the people who were traditional exploiters, who had made the mainstream a territorial asset, this message is for them,” Mattu said. “The change is inevitable and it has come to Srinagar and those people who were in delusions that without them there will be no change, no empowerment, but the fact is that people have got empowered today.”
“The Chastity Belt”
Interestingly, Mattu talked about the “chastity belt” in response to a particular question when asked about his plans in managing certain constructions. A reporter asked him that since the Omar Abdullah government had alleged that a car showroom in city outskirts was on wetland so was a construction in uptown illegally made but both the owners showed the papers, will the new Mayor go for demolishing similar constructions? Lone said both the constructions are legal and Mattu added that demolitions are an option.
“We are not putting chastity belts around Srinagar,” Mattu said while insisting that people see the building of a showroom and not 300 people working there. “We will strike a balance between development and ecology but that does not mean putting a chastity belt around the city.” He said: “Wetland Main Kya Karna Hai, Chudyoun Kou Deakthna Hai?”
“Keeping in view the ecological balance, we have to make our Srinagar city a world-class tourist city,” Mattu said. “The first thing we need to improve is the dignity of the common citizen and standard of life. Our team is ready to put the change in Srinagar.”
“I am not anybody to be against the BJP, and first of all they all have a right to win the elections, as they are also the part of the corporation,” Matu said. “As the narrative has been made by the parties, holier than thou, Omar Abdullah has remained a minister of external affairs and Mehbooba Mufti was sharing a plate with them till yesterday, so this question should be asked to them first that what kind of moral narrative they are talking about, and if they answer it, you come to me and I will surely answer it.”