A breath of fresh air in a stale political ecosystem is how supporters of Ikk Jutt, Jammu – a new political party launched on Thursday- describe it after it was registered by Election Commission of India.
“It is for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir that a Jammu specific – all its 10 districts included – has come up and is duly registered by Election Commission of India,” Ankur Sharma, the head of the Ikk Jutt Jammu said.
Sharma said that his party will fight assembly elections from all 43 seats of Jammu. “We have nothing to do with Kashmir,” he went on.
“For the patriotic people of Jammu who believe in the idea, unity and sovereignty of India, this is a critical juncture. There is now a political option in an otherwise option-less Jammu region that there is an alternate political vehicle,” he said.
A prominent lawyer based out of Jammu, Sharma has pitched for a separate Jammu state since the party started to shape up two to three years ago. He makes no bones about Kashmir saying it should continue as a Union Territory, ruled directly by Centre.
“My vision is clear. I am unambiguous. Full statehood for Jammu, minus Kashmir and non-interference from Delhi,” he told News18 over phone from Jammu.
“We want to liberate Jammu from Kashmir. It has been ignored for long,” he said.
He said Kashmiri politicians should have nothing to do with Jammu and nor will he take any dictation from Delhi. “We are for overall progress of Jammu region,” he said.
The senior lawyer-politician said his party is inclusive and will take Muslim majority districts of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Rajouri and Poonch.
Asked if a separate Jammu state will have a Hindu chief minister, Sharma skirted the question saying being a new party it will want a CM to be from Ikk Jutt Jammu.
He said the response for the party was overwhelming as more than 10000 people had already signed up as members. “Even some BJP leaders are approaching to join our party,” he claimed, but refused to drop names.
To a question whether minorities especially Gujjar and Bakerwal population were keen on joining him, Sharma said they too have realised that the existing parties in Jammu and Kashmir were exploiting them for votes. “They have understood politicians are dividing them to secure votes. They see hope in a new party,” he said.
“A lot of people are telling us we will divide the Hindu vote but we have clarified we are for Jammu and there is no Kashmir in our scheme of things and that in a new arrangement Jammu cannot be pulled down.”
“We are for the pride and progress of Jammu and Jammu only,” he reiterated. It is too early to say if Sharma’s party can dent the older parties.