Movie Halls should be opened in Kashmir
There should be either a war or friendship with Pakistan. There is no third way.
Dr Hina Bhat, BJP candidate for Assembly constituency of Amira Kadal, the sole Muslim woman face in Kashmir valley for BJP, appears to have the makings of an astute politician. She even has the chutzpah to admit the youthful pursuits of having fun on geri routes in Chandigarh and shopping sprees in Ludhiana and Amritsar in Punjab. Daughter of two-time legislator and Member of Parliament, Mohammad Shafi Bhat, the 35-year-old single mother of a six-year old son is all set to contest her first election in the constituency from where her father won all his elections as National Conference and Congress candidate. Bhat shares her feelings including the fate of article 370 of the constitution that her party is readying to abrogate.
Surrounded by party workers including Sheikh Abdul Rehman who joined BJP in 2003 and youngsters from Kashmir University at her residence in Rajbagh, Bhat in velvet black phiran embellished with silver tilla embroidery, instructs on putting party buntings and listens to supporters from a plush armchair in a room that was submerged in flood waters for almost a month and is now covered with posters of Prime Minister Narender Modi with a message in Urdu –“BJP ko vote de, chal chaley Modi ke saath, badle Jammu-Kashmir ke halaat …”
Q. Who contacted you from BJP for this seat?
Ans: I do not want to talk about this BJP Party MP and Jammu &Kashmir in charge Avinash Rai Khanna, and Union Minister for Health and family welfare Mr JP Nadda
Q. Your father Mohammed Shafi Bhat was from National Conference & Congress, so why BJP?
Ans: Nothing attracted me in National Conference (NC); the state in charge could bring no growth following the same old guard and archival agenda with no plans on youth development, no augmentation in hospitals and education, the same with Congress. I could however see the spark in BJP’s clear cut development vision and transparent democratic make-up. See, how the ‘swachh bharat abhiyan’ has even forced our CM Omar Abdullah to pick a broom (laughs). Modi has given us a dream, it is for us to follow and implement it in the best and quickest way. The first thing that a leader gives is imagination, then motivation and inspiration and next comes the ways and means to implement them. BJP has caught the imagination of people across the country and that is the first step towards good leadership, which will ultimately culminate into good governance. Where best governance comes, the state is bound to grow.
Jammu and Kashmir is in dire need of growth, youth here desperately needs employment and education needs to be spruced up. Old systems need to change in education, in healthcare, tourism to inspire economic growth for Jammu & Kashmir
Q. What qualified you for the BJP candidate for Amira Kadal?
Ans: My political grooming comes from home. My father helped me and he is my mentor as also a godfather. I am a qualified dentist and was keen to make a difference; all these qualities may have attracted the BJP towards me. Yes and being a Muslim woman face of the BJP also seemed to be a very positive reason for my selection. My father has never lost an election despite that NC sidelined him, his political reputation spelled a boon for me. I accompanied my father for campaigning when he won in 1989/ 1990 parliamentary elections for the 9th Lok Sabha elections almost unopposed. NC has no attraction for me. It has given the worst governance and the party hardly values its workers. If a party worker grows, the party will grow. And Yes! I always had political leanings (with a twinkle).
Q. You face a tough battle from the NC’s sitting legislator, Nasir Aslam Wani, and PDP’s business tycoon, Altaf Bukhari?
Ans: I faced lot of odds to join BJP as a Muslim woman but I have taken the risk for my state, to improve its temper and put it on the path of progress. NC is hardly my competition. Bukhari of PDP does not perturb me. A candidate is the reflection of his/her party and money doesn’t work, it’s the strategy that works, otherwise don’t you think Ambanis would have the prime ministerial berth on their platter. I am in politics for a long haul and I have faith that Mr. Modi’s magic could change the atmosphere and help the lotus bloom in Kashmir in newer shades. My USP is my keen awareness about changes that are in dire need, NC- Congress and PDP could hardly bring anything tangible. PDP is merely banking on anti incumbency, while BJP already has shown its strength in other states and its policies are attracting people from all over the country. “BJP means business, not business as usual”! PM has a visionary approach to development and peace agenda and No! it wasn’t much difficult to make a choice. Kashmiris are basically secular and accommodating in nature. They believe in cohesion and cohabitation. Despite the past many would follow their basic character. They have seen militancy and turmoil, now they want to move forward and return to their basic roots.
Q. BJP is labeled as Hindutva party and you as a Muslim, could you be seen as a turncoat for your community?
Ans Hindutva party is the false term coined by Congress for BJP for political advantage. But all can see that Modi’s policies involve unified and not segregated growth. He has taken the nation in totality. The idea of corporate houses and celebrity figures adopting villages to turn them into model villages is not community based or for only a section of people. It is an open invitation to all those who have earned from the nation, need to share their wealth and prosperity with the lesser privileged in the nation and improve their lot.
My constituency is amongst the largest with 78,000 registered voters. There are nearly 11,000 Kashmiri Pandits and 4000 Kashmiri Sikhs, Khatris and Hindus make up another 3000, but I am considering all of them ‘One people’.
Q. How do you look at Omar Abdullah?
Ans: I sympathize with him, he is high headed, has an old coterie around him and heads a corrupt cabinet, therefore he is suffering today. The state under him has emerged as the Number-1 corrupt state. This time he has no chance. Floods were a major barometer for his popularity or lack of it and he failed miserably. I call the floods a man-made disaster. The administration or the political dispensation drew no topographical pitfalls of vital areas. How could they not have anticipated the drawback of their plans when you landfill the water clearing channels and let haphazard growth go unchecked?
Q. Are there some celebrity faces that could show up for your rallies?
Ans Yes, PM Narender Modi is scheduled along with Avinash Rai, Hema Malini, and Navjot Singh Sidhu
Q What would be your first focus in case you win?
Ans My main focus would be youth – justice and jobs for them! I would like to open lakhs of cases, real or fake against the youth. Each one should be provided with a passport by which they could explore job opportunities in other countries too.
Q How come all should be given passports?
Ans Why? Don’t black-listers have passports? Out of the 100 booked, 99% are not involved in any heinous crimes, so why should they be deprived of passports.
Q. In a way are you saying that general amnesty should be announced for all those booked?
Ans: Yes! Positively and I don’t mean just the youth even those aged beyond that should be given a chance.
Q. And Article 370?
Ans I do not believe that Kashmiri sentiments regarding article 370 should be played with. Already much of the the article has been tampered with by successive governments including NC, PDP and Congress. Let some semblance be maintained as far as certain status is enshrined in the article. The BJP has targeted a vision of 44+ seats in the 87 seat assembly and I am sure Mr. Modi is sensitive to the sentiments of the people and will not take up the contentious issue of article 370.
What if Modi does take up the issue of article 370?
Ans I will oppose it.
What about women issues of female foeticide, dowry and large weddings?
Ans Female foeticide is very little in Kashmir but yes regarding weddings I would turn to empowerment of women, for which I would inspire women to join politics in large numbers and bring about a change. Also I would like to introduce a woman cell that would deal exclusively with problems related to women. Woman are shy to approach MLAs and police, a women’s cell would be more approachable.
How about Anti India feelings?
Ans Those who want to boycott is their choice. The anti India feelings have come as the center invested in political families and not in the people of Jammu and Kashmir. People’s problems lay un-addressed as political incumbencies misappropriated central grant. Thus a distance was created and governments were looked upon as stooges of the center. This feeling would be abandoned when the center uses clean people to address genuine problems. The ignored lot can be weaned only by crossing the bridge of trust deficit
What about Pakistan?
Ans There should either be a war or friendship with Pakistan. There is no third way.
Q Kashmir is starved of entertainment, there are no movie halls and those that were have remained defunct and unusable. Do you think Kashmiri youth should be kept deprived of public places for entertainment while the rest of the country enjoys? and for how long?
Ans Once basic needs are met; I would strongly support the opening of movie halls for Kashmir. I look forward to progress and prosperity for Kashmiris.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON NOVEMBER 21, 2014