Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu joins Apni Party

A day after being elected as the Mayor of summer capital Srinagar, Junaid Mattu on Friday joined the JK Apni Party (JKAP) at the party headquarters at Sheikh Bagh in Lal Chowk here.

Addressing mediapersons, Mattu said the he joined the JKAP because it “has emerged at a very critical juncture as a political party which believes in politics of pragmatism and delivery”.

“It is a party which has emerged as an alternative

to politics of exploitation. I have in my brief political career understood very well the vast difference between the rhetoric of the traditional political parties and what they actually intend to do,” Mattu said.

The Srinagar Mayor said: “JKAP has come as a breath of fresh air and seems to be the only credible alternative to the politics of exploitation that has been heralded by the traditional mainstream in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Replying to a question, Mattu said the mayoral election was the “most transparent open ballot elections” of the city’s civic body.

“It was an open ballot election unlike earlier when it used to be a secret ballot election. We won by a two thirds majority and got 44 votes. It is often that when an opposite side realises they don’t have numbers they raise issues such as this (of unfair polls)” Mattu said.

Addressing mediapersons, JKAP president Altaf Bukhari said he was “glad that Srinagar has got back a Mayor after 8 months”.

He said Mattu was “an energetic young man from whom JKAP had a lot of expectations which he will fulfil, backed by the hold JKAP has in Srinagar”. 

“Now the challenge for him is how he controls the pandemic. SMC has gone through a turmoil. We as a party have high stakes in Srinagar city but we will meet the expectations of the people and make it a world-class city,” Bukhari said.

Bukhari recollected that after the 2014 floods he had made huge efforts as the works minister to overcome the destruction caused by the deluge. “We request people to make Srinagar a dream city for which all sorts of suggestions from common people and media are welcome. There will be zero tolerance for corruption and while priority will be for the old city, all wards will witness development,” Bukhari said.

Commenting on the District Development Councils (DDC) polls which commence on Saturday, Bukhari said the announcement of the polls “was a good opportunity for JKAP” which was “on a take-off stage”.

“It is a new journey for us as people increasingly want to listen to us and every day more people are joining JKAP. The party is just 8 months old but we are trying to address the core issues”.

Bukhari said the party was upbeat about the polls. “For the first phase of DDC polls taking place on Saturday, there are 24 constituencies from Valley and 18 from Jammu. JKAP in the Valley is contesting directly on 16 constituencies and backing independent candidates in 8 constituencies. In Jammu we are fighting on 12 constituencies directly and backing three independent candidates. JKAP is contesting on all 16 places for the municipal polls. For the nominations for six phases, in Kashmir Apni party will be contesting on 92 seats and in Jammu on 73 seats directly. We are backing 13 independent candidates in Kashmir and 4 in Jammu for these phases for which lists have been released” Bukhari said.

He said DDC polls were  completely “development-oriented election and not politics driven”.

Bukhari said JKAP was “unlike other parties who go back and forth on their agenda regarding conducting polls in J&K”.

“We fully realise that elections are a part of democracy. To say that you give me votes for the DDC polls and I will restore Article 370 is incorrect to say as these are just development-oriented polls” Bukhari said.

He said among the core issues on which JKAP is focussing includes “restoration of statehood, safeguarding jobs and land for the residents of J&K”.

“August 5, 2019 was a black day for J&K but we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will give a favourable judgement. We have been reiterating that apart from the land for setting up of industries, they should not be given domicile rights and also land is exclusively meant for residents of J&K. There also needs to be an assessment done in what way these industries are going to benefit J&K,” Bukhari said.

When asked for his comments on PDP president Mehbooba Mufti not being allowed to hold a press conference on Friday, Bukhari said: “In democracy free movement should be allowed” but added that even some of JKAP leaders had restrictions on free movement due to security reasons.

“The essence of democracy is freedom. I have seen her (Mehbooba) visiting several places and the other day I saw her visiting a river site to raise the sand issues. It is good that they have also joined to raise voices and demands of people and that is what I have been saying that we need to raise issues,” Bukhari said.