Union minister of state for finance and BJP’s new poll in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir, Anurag Thakur, is moving between the regions of UT for the J&K’s first ever DDC elections. He spoke to TOI’s Rohan Dua. Excerpts.
Q.1BJP has made a Union minister as Jammu and Kashmir polls in charge for district development council (DDC) elections. Several other ministers and leaders like Gen V K Singh, Jitendra singh have joined you in what is being seen as strategy otherwise deployed in state and general elections. Whats the significance of these polls?
A. If you remember long time back, Rajiv Gandhi ji had said that he wants to strengthen the Panchayati Raj institutions but unfortunately they did not. Especially in J&K. But after abrogation of article 370, our motive has been to strengthen the democracy and involve elected representatives to lead the campaign, progress of development projects and infrastructure in this part of our country. In 2018, we had Panchayati Raj polls, then in 2019 BDC polls and now for the first time, DDC will be elected. This clearly shows we believe in ballot, while others propagated bullet. This poll too is a battle between bullet vs ballot.
Q.2 You mentioned bullet vs ballot. This year, terrorists killed some BJP leaders in Kashmir. How does that affect the morale of the party?
A. Bharatiya Jan Sangh and its founder Shyama Prasasd Mukherjee, who hailed from West Bengal, quit his job as a minister and fought for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Ours is a party of fight and fightbacks. He coined the slogan: Ek desh mai do vidhan, do nishan, do pradhan nahi ho sakte. He sacrificed his life for Kashmir. We all come from that party. We have lost many of our workers due to violence in Kerala and West Bengal apart from Jammu and Kashmir. Its very unfortunate attempt to detail peace process. But the stone pelting in the Valley halted after article 370 annulment. Which is a huge success for us. In 1992, it was Narendra Modiji and Murali Manohar Joshi ji who hoisted the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. In 2011, I started a programme India First and started a yatra from Kolkata to Kashmir, stand with Indian Army and begin process to fight for Kashmir. We are third generation of the party and would not give up our struggle and fear terrorism or when Farooq Abdullah is seeking help from China, Omar Abdullah speaking the language of Pakistan and Mehbooba Mufti is disrespecting the national flag.. This is the deciding phase.We will keep fightin polls
Q.3 The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) vs BJP. How does this battle stand today polls in Jammu and Kashmir especially as the Opposition parties had earlier announced not to contest DDC polls.
A. The election campaign and our results will yet again be a ratification of works done Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 800 million people have been given free foodgrains — pulses and dal during COVID while 20-crore plus Jan Dhan holders have been given Rs 1500 each and three crore widows, disabled and old age people have been given Rs 1,000 each. More than seven crore have been LPG refill for three month period and nine crore farmers received Rs 2,000. We have also increased MNREGA for employment by help of Rs 1 lakh crore during pandemic. That separates us from PAGD. Even in 2000-04, then PM Atal Vajpayee ji gave packages for HP and J&K. Similarly, LG Manoj Sinha has given a list of 13,000 people who will be recruited and 30,000 more are in the pipeline. More than three lakh crore has been released under emergency credit line guarantee scheme for business outfits.
Q.4Pulwama remained the concurrent theme of 2019 Lok Saba polls. Will be it an issue this time in J&K?
A. This was most unfortunate thing. Especially the Gupkar Gang — PDP, Congress and National Conference. When they should have stood by armed forces,they chose to speak in Pakistan’s language, tone and tenor. So much that Pakistan PM Imran Khan quoted Rahul Gandhi at platforms like UN among others. We just stand vindicated when Pakistan minister Fawad Chauhry admitted Imran Khan government’s role in attack in the National Assembly during a debate. That’s it.
Q.5 Internet shutdown was a big problem after article 370 annulment but security forces claimed it helped kill them terrorists. How do you look at successes and failures
A. First thing we committed was there be peace in the Valley. The elimination of 200-odd terrorists this year The 70-year wait for rights which were not given to Gurkhas, Valmikis ,West Pakistan refugees and Scheduled Tribes has ended now. People living on international border have got four percent reservation. People who colluded with banks for divering money under state schemes and officials to encroach upon land under Roshani Act are being exposed. These are our successes.
Q.5 Critics may question timing of release of the list of Roshani act’s alleged violators.
A. There was a PIL filed in the Jammu and Kashmir high court. A bench led by justice Gita Mittal passed an order that this act is illegal and unconstitutional and benefits were being given to those who are influential and in power whether a politician, bureaucrat, businessman and so on. The Roshni Act was brought in Abdulla government in 2001 to regularise land. The argument was that by this act which, the state would collect Rs 25,000 crore as fee that would be spent on power infrastructure in the state, thus the name – Roshni Act. The cut-off date was set 1990 which was later extended to 2005, which was again extended to 2007 by then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. The state had got only Rs 76 crore. Not a single hydro power project came. The intentions were clear of the Gupkar land grabber gang.
Q.6 UP government has passed an ordinance on religious conversion. Will this issue be part of this or future polls?
A. In a free country like India, where you are free to practice any religion and pray – whether gurudwara, masjid, temple — why should anyone be forced to convert? Why should anyone be mislead or misinformed or real identity be kept and the real name be hidden. Young people get lured into love and affection but should not be forced to change religion.

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