I am accountable to my conscience and to the people who have elected me to raise their issues in the Legislative Assembly, the legislator from Srinagar's Amirakadal constituency Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari said on Saturday, day after remarking in the House that he was "proud to represent people."
Talking to reporters outside the Assembly in Jammu, Altaf pledged to "always strive for what I believe is worth striving for."
"I will continue to raise issues of public importance no matter how successful or unsuccessful I am. Besides, I am of the conviction that I shall never raise any issue which is not in the interest of people of my Constituency, City or the State," he said, emphasizing the "role" of a public representative in the Legislative Assembly.
Asked if he was satisfied as an MLA or feeling ignored by the present government led his Peoples Democratic Party, Bukhari said: "There is no question of ignoring Srinagar city. I am satisfied and contented as the MLA of my people and I am not looking for anything."
Altaf—who raised several key issues in the Legislative Assembly, going to the extent of even criticizing the functioning of ministries like Power, Housing and Horticulture during the ongoing Budget Session—said as an MLA "I represent people in my entire constituency and not my voters or supporters alone."
"I am accountable to my conscience. I follow my people and my conscience only. While criticizing the functioning of Housing and Power Development departments yesterday, what I meant was that the elected representatives are not being taken on board in formulation of housing and its allied policies for cities like Srinagar," Altaf, who headed the Public Works department as a minister in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government, said.
He said while MLAs are being taken on board by the Rural Development Ministry in rural areas, the elected representatives in Srinagar were not being consulted in implementation of various centrally-sponsored schemes like 'Housing for All', AMRUT and Swach Bharat Mission.
He said it is a universal reality that MLAs are elected by their voters and supporters "but once they land in the Assembly, they are supposed to raise public issues in general and not only issues pertaining to their voters."
"We all are elected by our voters but once we take oath as MLAs, we are supposed to represent all sections of our constituency, irrespective of their political affiliations. While I was in the Cabinet I always raised public issues vehemently and now I am proud to represent my people as their MLA. My criticism of functioning of any department does not mean I have lost something. I am contented and enjoy myself as MLA of my people," he said. "Elections are not won on the basis of number of nameplates engraved in foundation stones but purely by performance on ground."