Former CS Vijay Bakaya, former BJP leaders among many big-wigs joining new party soon

Srinagar, Mar 07: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP), a political party led by former PDP leader and two time minister Altaf Bukhari is being launched in Srinagar tomorrow at a time when there is a total political vacuum prevailing in the Union Territory (UT).

According to wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Bukhari who hails from Sopore in Baramulla is a prominent businessman. He has been working behind the scenes to come up with a new political formation in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.

The former Finance and Roads and Buildings minister won the last assembly elections from Amira Kadal by defeating National Conference leader Nasir Aslam Wani in 2014.

He was among a few political leaders who met the far right wing EU Parliamentarian on lunch in Delhi in October before their trip to Kashmir. He has made no bones of his contacts with Centre government officials and said he is a successful businessman and a politician and had nothing to hide.

The launch of J&K Apni Party is the first major political activity happening in Kashmir after the abrogation of article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh on August 5, 2019, by the BJP government.

As per—KNO, the Centre has been desperate to fill the political vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir after the removal of Article 370. The launch of the new political party is happening at a time when most of three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, his son, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti continue to be in detention under the since August last year.

Sources told—KNO that prominent politicians who are likely to part of J&K Apni Party include former PDP leader and deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussian Baig, Ghulam Hassan Mir (former Independent MLA), former PDP leaders Javed Hussain Beg, Dilawar Mir, Noor Mohammed, Zaffar Manhas, Abdul Majid Paddar, Abdul Rahim Rather and former MLA and BJP leader Gagan Bhagat from RS Pura. Sources said the party will be first launched in Srinagar followed by another function in Jammu.

Others who have decided to join the party are time former Congress MLA and minister Usman Majeed, former minister and district Congress president for Samba, Manjit Singh and district Jammu Urban president Vikram Malhotra, who was the Congress candidate from Jammu East in 2014 Assembly elections, two more Congress leaders from Jammu region, one of them former minister and another former MLA from Reasi are likely to join the party shortly.

As per sources, former J&K chief secretary and NC member Vijay Bakaya is also joining the JKAP. Bukhari has demanded the Centre government must ensure protection for the right to own land and jobs for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and release all political prisoners including the three former chief ministers and lift curbs on communication. He has denied that J&KAP aims to replace the traditional political setup in Kashmir based on the Abdullahs and the Muftis.

“My aim is to help my people to provide some succor to them,’’ said Bukhari. “If anybody has better plan for the people we will support it.” Bukhari’s plan to launch a new party had evoked criticism from the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had stated that “new party was BJP’s proxy in J&K.”— (KNO)

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