‘My only regret is delaying the decision to participate for too long’

  • Aditya Sinha
  • Publish Date: Jan 19 2016 1:10PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Feb 12 2016 6:58PM
‘My only regret is delaying the decision to participate for too long’

The separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajad Gani Lone’s presence in Assembly election had electrified the poll scenario in North Kashmir. Now, as the Animal Husbandry minister in the state government, Lone says his priority is to live up to the expectations of the people.

In an interview with Saqib Malik, Lone says that taking part in polls was his own decision and that it was not his place to advocate electoral participation to other separatist groups

 

EXCERPTS:

What has your first experience as a part of the state government been so far?

It was something new. I had never visited Secretariat before. Initially there was a lot of discomfort. But now with every passing day, I am getting used to the new routine. Being part of the state government is a challenging assignment. It gives you an opportunity to contribute. On the flip side, it raises expectations, which are at times unrealistic.

 

Has the system adopted you, or does it still treat you an outsider?

I have entered the system because of the people’s mandate. I am there because of people and the system belongs to people. So the question of adopting or not adopting does not arise.

 

You have always stood for the participation of the separatist groups in electoral politics to fight for their goals. Why do you think it is necessary?

The idea for a separatist to fight elections was my decision and concerned me and my party. I have not advocated the same line for others. It is for them to make up their mind. I personally feel that the chance to make a contribution is immense. The problems of the people of the state are multidimensional. They are economic and political in nature. Sole focus on political issues in the larger context and assuming that there is no economic dimension to people’s problems might have done more harm than benefit. We have to understand that J&K is a very, very poor state. Pretending that poor people don’t deserve to have elected representatives to help them address their day to day grievances is callous.  Anyways, that is how I feel. I have no regrets. My only regret is delaying the decision to participate for too long.

 

The general public perception about the PDP-BJP coalition is that itis falling far short of the expectations?

To the best of my knowledge, the current government has a mandate of six years. There is a limit to pessimism and invented tales of gloom and doom. What can one accomplish in just three months? Governance is a process and a continuous process. As a rule of thumb, the minimum grace period for any government to settle down and clear the debris of the past is one year. Our armchair experts started writing this government off even before the government had been formed. I personally feel that this government will deliver and attain excellence in a normal progression. Don’t expect miracles in three months and rein in negative urges to write off everything and anything.

 

How do you foresee the future of PDP-BJP coalition in the state?

As I said, they will deliver. The whole focus is on economic empowerment of the masses through massive development and at the same time a concerted effort to reform and restructure the system.

 

Where does your politics stand between that of BJP and PDP? For now politics of People’s Conference is conspicuous by its absence?

We are not absent. It is delivery time and we need to pool our efforts to provide good governance and that is what we are trying to do. When the time comes for political input, Peoples Conference will not let the people down.

How worrying is the onslaught against former militants by unidentified gunmen in Sopore? Who do you think is behind these killings?

We have seen worst phases of violence. The shelf life of violence has expired and has no sanctity. So this too will pass. Let us hope that there is no further loss of life.

 

Do you still stand for Achievable Nationhood, your formula for the resolution of Kashmir?

Yes, I believe it is a holistic document and could be an important input in any serious exercise.

 

Is there anything that makes you unhappy about the prevailing state of affairs or the PDP-BJP coalition?

No. None.