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Kejriwal on lips, Faesal floats party

IAS topper promises change, corruption-free state

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 18.03.19, 3:13 AM
  • Updated 18.03.19, 3:13 AM
  • 2 mins read
Shah Faesal with Shehla Rashid at the launch of his political party in Srinagar on Sunday. (PTI)

Kashmir seemed to have its Aam Aadmi Party moment on Sunday when its lone IAS topper, Shah Faesal, and rights activist Shehla Rashid floated a political party to bring “change” to the state.

Faesal, who recently quit the civil service to join politics, himself cited parallels with Delhi’s AAP chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as he told a Srinagar rally: “Hawa badlegi (The winds will change).”

He promised that his party, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement, would bring about a “corruption-free” state.

Faesal’s rally came as the Valley’s biggest mainstream parties, the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, kicked off their election campaigns in south and north Kashmir, respectively.

“I always cite the examples of Kejriwal and Imran Khan because they had to struggle a lot for years but their faith was not shaken,” Faesal told the gathering.

He said he had initially wanted to join an established political party — apparently referring to the National Conference — but the people rightly forced him to chart an independent course.

He accused his opponents of slandering him by inventing conspiracy theories linking him to the RSS and the BJP.

“Imran Khan won an election after 22 years (in politics) but there are still people who say he is the military’s man,” he said.

“History is witness that whenever a new idea is born, it is first rejected and then there are conspiracies against it…. I am ready to face resistance and abuse.”

Faesal said his party did not belong to any religion or region, and that the Dogras of Jammu (Hindus), Buddhists of Ladakh and Muslims of Rajouri and Poonch were all alike for him.

He said that when he had joined the civil service 10 years ago, he thought that good roads, electricity and drinking water would change lives. But now he had realised that nothing would work until people’s lives and the women’s honour was safe.

The former bureaucrat said he favoured a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the state’s people, and urged India and Pakistan to play facilitator.

Shehla, a former students leader at JNU, said the state’s people wanted roads, electricity and water but “with our heads high and not after bowing our heads”. She said the new party would work for Kashmiris’ safety outside the state.

The party wants to contest elections but it isn’t clear whether it will fight the upcoming one. It’s expected to receive support from the youth, but dislodging the National Conference and the PDP from their perch would be an uphill task.

Hundreds from across the Valley turned up at the party’s launch.

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