The Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, a new entrant to the political arena of the union territory, is not a "B-team" of the BJP or the "King's party" as described by political rivals like the National Conference and the PDP but an outfit which has no history of being a dynasty, its chief Altaf Bukhari said on Sunday.
"In fact, when the words like King's party and B-team were coined, I simply laughed. The National Conference enjoyed power with the BJP from 1999 and the PDP had an alliance with the BJP post 2014 assembly polls and my party has been given such names. In other words, they are the actual B-team of the BJP," Mr Bukhari, a businessman-turned-politician, told PTI in his office.
With people queuing up at his office for various work, Mr Bukhari took a dig at the NC as well as the PDP and said it seems that these parties do not like anyone other than their family members to meet people in Delhi.
"It is ironic that a party which has not got any benefit from Delhi is termed B-team...those who enjoyed fruits of power, courtesy the BJP, they call us B-team. People will have to really expose these state actors who are just to retain their hold on power, and want to create doubts about anybody who is new to politics," Mr Bukhari, who was a minister in the governments led by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti, said.
Mr Bukhari, who along with some leaders formed the JKAP in March 2020, said the party is new and "we all are trying to emerge on the political scene of Jammu and Kashmir with changed realities".
"Just because I went to Delhi and met the prime minister to discuss the release of people from jails, allay fears of any demographic change and ensure there is no loss of jobs and land...why are they (the NC and PDP) crying on that.
"Because they think it is their domain to go to Delhi, they think it is their hereditary right to meet people in the power corridors in Delhi and when somebody like Altaf Bukhari meets the prime minister, he becomes an agent of Delhi.
"This has always been their right from 1947. Whenever anybody other than these families go to Delhi, they call them agents of Delhi or they call them B-team of Delhi or ruling party. They have been bullying everyone only to ensure they retain their monopoly on power in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Referring to the dismal performance of JKAP during the local body elections, Bukhari said "first and foremost I do not consider it as a dismal performance. There was an election for the District Development Council. I won 12 seats directly and 22 indirectly and please remember that we are merely a year-old party".
To a question about the June 24 meeting of leaders from Jammu and Kashmir which was chaired by the prime minister in Delhi, he said, "The biggest expectation from the meeting was to request the Centre for restoration of statehood and all the parties present there raised the issue in our own way."
"I have a humble appeal to all other political parties. We have lost everything. It's not that Delhi will do something just because we went to Delhi, I don't expect Delhi to restore statehood to us just because we all went there. We have to build a case for the same. A day will come they will do it because the prime minister has promised and so has the home minister (Amit Shah) on the floor of the House (Parliament)," he said.
Bukhari said it all depends on how a case is put forward before the central leadership. "During March last year, I called on the prime minister and apprised him about the fears in people about job loss and land. I am so grateful that he understood and we managed to have a law to protect the same."
To a question whether the JKAP was ready for elections in case the Centre decides to hold it before restoring statehood, he said, "Ideally, we would like this statehood to be restored before elections are held. Having said so, our very existence has come due to the problems which are faced by our own people and my belief is that unless grassroots democracy is restored, problems of my people can't be addressed."
If the elections are held before restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, he added, "we will not shy away from making that sacrifice also."