‘BJP aims to win 50+ seats in next elections’

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/20/2016 5:13:36 PM This Person: Then and Now

BJP State President Sat Sharma says that his party has not abandoned the resolve to scrap Article 370 and that is why it finds mention in the “Agenda of Alliance”.

ZAFAR CHOUDHARY: Tell us something about your political journey.
SHARMA: I had actually wanted to become a doctor but political activism always attracted me. It was during my college days, way back in 1975, that I was jailed for political activities. Since then I have been associated with the Sangh and, therefore, BJP was a natural political destination for me. After my graduation I qualified for chartered accountancy and started my own practice. Before actively joining the party in 1997, I did a sort of graduation in organizational politics by participating in elections of association of Chartered Accountants. I have always looked at myself as a ground worker of the BJP but the party has remained kind enough to trust me with organizational leadership roles — twice as treasurer of state unit of BJP, general secretary, then vice president and eventually the president. It was around 2004-05 that I left active practice as Chartered Accountant to devote full time to politics.

DEEPAK KHAJURIA: BJP has come to power for the first time in J&K and you are state BJP president. Do you feel that you face more challenges than previous presidents as the party is in power?
SHARMA: Earlier people termed this post as “Crown of Thorns”, then I used to think within that it must be comfortable to be state president, but now I understand what it meant. You can say I am lucky on being state president when we are in government. There are many challenges, but I am coping up with them.

DEEPAK KHAJURIA: What is your next political aspiration as you already sitting on the top chair in State BJP and what you want your sons to become?
SHARMA: There are aspirations, but I will reveal them on the right time. Being state president is itself a big achievement for me. Talking of my sons, the elder one is working in media and he is also vice-president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). The younger one is looking after my professional (Chartered Accountant) office.

DEEPAK KHAJURIA: With ongoing tension with Pakistan on border, do you support Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s statement to initiate talks with Pakistan to bring peace back to LoC and IB?
SHARMA: This is the CM’s statement, but I do not feel that this is not proper time to initiate talks with Pakistan, when the borders are tense. Talks with Pakistan are only possible when ceasefire violations come to an end.

DEEPAK KHAJURIA: During 2014 election campaign, BJP gave slogan of Chief Minister from Jammu, now PDP CM has completed almost two years in chair and there is a demand from some BJP workers, leaders and voters that there should be BJP CM in second half?
SHARMA: Our central leadership has given Chief Ministership to PDP and there is no question of BJP CM in this coalition. Yes, if we win next elections and get majority, we will then definitely have BJP CM in the state.

DEEPAK KHAJURIA: BJP won all three MLA seats from Jammu and also has three MLCs from here, but there is no minister from Jammu. Will Jammu get a minister in next reshuffle?

SHARMA: There is no plan for cabinet reshuffle in near future. We will give it a think, when it comes. There is no particular reason why Jammu did not get any minister.

ANUJ SHRIVASTAVA: Jammu is very crucial for you as you draw your strength from here; hence your work in the province will be remembered and the results of next elections will be largely based on it. Ministers give statements saying fast track work and repeatedly stress on time-bound completion of projects. Are these statements enough, or is the party also keeping an eye on the developments and pace?
SHARMA: Yes, Jammu is very crucial for us and we know this well. And we are fully focussed on development in the province. Ours is a cadre-based party and we hold regular meetings at various levels within the organization to review the development works being undertaken and raise issues, if any, with the concerned ministers and ensure that all obstacles and inadequacies are removed. All our MLAs meet workers and public everyday from 8.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. to take feedback from them.

ANUJ SHRIVASTAVA: As BJP State President and MLA are you satisfied with the development work in Jammu?
SHARMA: Yes, I am satisfied with the work, and as I keep in regular contact with my people, I can say that they are also satisfied with work. In my constituency, water pipeline was in a very poor state. So much so, that 40% of the water supplied was getting wasted in leakage. I spent Rs 72.98 crores in changing the pipelines and the water wastage has come down to just 7% which is very important because we are dependent on Tawi river that dries up in winters. Similarly, we have done macadamisation of roads on a big scale. Besides, a lot of planned work is going on under RPDRP and its impact on power supply will be visible. Work under AMRUT is going to make a huge impact and will improve the amenities.

RAHUL BANSAL: The industries in Jammu feel neglected by state government. Is the government planning a proper industrial policy for the state? What initiatives will you take to revive industries in Jammu?
SHARMA: I feel that industrial growth is very important for growth and development of the state. Jammu-based industrialists are facing challenges due to prevailing situations. The state government always welcomes suggestions from industrialists if they are beneficial for the state and boost industrial sector. Industries play a big role in state’s economy. BJP will bring a new industrial policy in the state.

ADHIRAJ MALHAN: After demonetization, will the GDP of J&K increase or decrease?
SHARMA: People in Jammu and Kashmir will face some problems initially after demonetization like the rest of the country but the bold move will ultimately boost the economy of the state in the long run. The GDP of Jammu & Kashmir state is very less when compared with states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The measures being taken by the Central government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will root out corruption and black money and will help in the economic development of our state. Our coalition government wants to boost tourism and industry by improving the basic infrastructure required for these sectors. Initially, due to demonetization GDP may dip but in long run it will benefit the state. RPDRP scheme which was launched in 2007 was not executed in correct manner. The coalition government has expedites the process of restructuring of power distribution system in state under RPDRP scheme. The government seeks suggestions from all for promoting industry and same would be included in industrial policy. The money people had kept in their homes and was lying unused is now with the banks which can now lend it and that too on lower rates. Earlier, the banks did not have any money to lend to our industrialists.

ANUJ SHRIVASTAVA: Demonetisation has caused a lot of hardships to the people, but still most support it. Somewhere, people have high hopes that there will be remarkable change ahead. However, there are reports of people using various ways to save their black money as is being reported. Will this fail the demonetization exercise?
SHARMA: PM Modi has said that this is just the beginning. We will root out corruption and black money from the country. It is said that once a thorn pierced Chanakya’s foot; he pulled it out but didn’t walk away after that; he uprooted the tree bearing the thorns and put ash in its roots so that it never grows again. Modiji is acting similarly. Of the nearly 16 lakh crore value currency in circulation, only 8.6 lakh crores has been deposited in banks till now when everyone is in a rush. The results will be very good and more steps to end corruption will definitely follow. Demonetization has had a major impact on anti-national activities as many Naxalites have already surrendered as black money and fake currency were being used for anti-national activities. Stone pelting in the Valley has also stopped since demonetization as have other illegal activities in the country. The Opposition parties are making noise but more than 90 per cent people of the country are supporting the Prime Minister on the move. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to root out corruption from the country and bring transparency. The PM has asked all party MPs, MLAs, MLCs to submit their bank transaction details before and after demonetization.

S. SHEKHAR: Why the State BJP has abandoned the Jammu-centric issues it had been raising vociferously at the time of Assembly elections?
SHARMA: As far as Article 370 is concerned, our party is always keen on it and has not abandoned it. You know there is coalition government at present. We have not abandoned our resolve to scrap Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir. It is there in the “Agenda of Alliance”. Along with this, there is issue of “Delimitation of Constituencies”. Even though delimitation was specified in 1996 for period upto 2026 but we have not abandoned it as well. The BJP never abandons its ideology and it will remain so in future as well. The first phase was of development and then restoration of peace is parallel to it. After this, the PDP as well as BJP will take up their individual issues accordingly. One thing I would like to say here is that we are going as per the Agenda. We have a 50 plus target for the next Assembly elections and then we can take ahead our core issues.

S. SHEKHAR: If not politics, what would have been your career choice?
SHARMA: Basically, I wanted to be a doctor and for this I completed my B.Sc. full medical. I fell short by few marks in the examination and then I opted for Chartered Accountancy and I became a Chartered Accountant (C.A.).

SUMIT SHARMA: Sir, there was news item in local dailies about Rs 4 crores of demonetized notes of a BJP minister in the state recently. It took the BJP three days to deny the news. The time gap gave opportunity to the opposition parties to level allegations on the ruling party. Why was their delay? Was it because of factionalism among the party ministers?
SHARMA: No, it was false news. I have full faith on the police .I asked the newspapers which published the news item to give me names of ministers and provide evidence, but no one came forward. I am the state president, I could not deny the news instantly. I conducted proper investigation and verification after which I was satisfied that the news item was just an attempt to malign the image of BJP. Then I addressed a press conference in which I denied the news published in some sections of media. It should be the duty of media to verify the news before publishing it.

AKANKSHA GUPTA: Soon after your election as BJP State President, you said that you will work to strengthen your party at the grass-root level. How much success do you think you have achieved in this?
SHARMA: Yes I made that statement and I am trying to achieve that. I have been constantly working to strengthen the party and promoting nationalism among the people and party workers. We keep in touch with both our workers and the public. For this, the party decided to observe key historical moments when ministers, MLAs, senior party functionaries and even national leaders participate and interact with people and party workers. BJP always believed in celebrating the important historical moments which made a huge impact on the country’s fate. The party celebrates six major events, including BJP’s Foundation Day on 6th April, birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar on 14th April, then the most unforgettable date of 23 June which is observed as Balidan Diwas of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhaya on 25th September, then Pandit Prem Nath Dogra’s birth anniversary on 24th October and particularly his Shahidi Diwas in year 1953, which was considered a crucial year for the State when BJP brought fearlessness among people in J&K to hold the Indian flag in their hands which was not possible earlier. I believe that observing these events will not only give confidence to our party workers but also help people to understand the role and contribution of various party men, who have scarified their lives for the country’s development and prosperity.

SAHIL RASGOTRA: Tell us about your family, their contribution in your political journey. How much time are you able to spend with them now?
SHARMA: There is no doubt that family plays an important role in everyone’s life and mine has been no different. Right from the beginning of my career, first my parents and then my wife and kids, they all have been a great support to me. Besides enriching me emotionally, they have contributed significantly in my professional and political journey. I am still not well versed with usage of computer and internet, something which has become a quintessential part of everybody’s life. It is only because of my children that I manage to have an online presence on various social networking sites. When I started my political journey, they looked after my campaign in a very nice and efficient manner. I have two sons and a daughter. One of my sons looks after my office while the other is already BJYM State Vice-President. Things have obviously changed with the passage of time and now I get very little time to spend with my family. Now, the only time I get to spend with my family on regular basis is at the breakfast table in the morning. By the time I reach home at night, I find them already asleep. But they understand the duty I have to perform. The national duty is greater than my personal ones.

AKRITI JAMWAL: You were elected from the Winter Capital with the highest winning margin in the entire state, so it was being speculated that you will be in the Ministry when BJP formed government with PDP. More so, your qualification of C.A. made you ideal candidate for finance minister but you got a political position and not any position in the Council of Ministers. Why? Also, don't you think it is unfair to Jammu that none of its MLAs has been made a minister?
SHARMA: There is an age old saying “Kabhi Kisi Ko Mukammal Jahaan Nahi Milta”. To become Party President is a huge achievement in itself; out of all members of the party only one can be the President. When I started my political journey, I dreamt about serving the party as its President, so it is a dream come true for me. I am proud of my party where there are so many members who contribute significantly to the party with complete devotion without expecting anything in return. I am satisfied with what I have achieved till now. I am looking forward to strengthening my party, so that our party can get a clear mandate and then ministry will have majority of our party members, including the Chief Minister. There is no doubt that when people elected me with such a huge margin, they aspired to see me in the ministry. But on a brighter side, being a President, I can stay more in touch with my people. For instance, each MLA gets one and a half crore rupees for his constituency development every year; so in the tenure of six years, it sums up to around Rs. 9 Crore. I have spent around Rs. 125 Crore for the development work including Rs. 72.98 Crore on crucial water pipeline development project in my constituency. So you see there is no difficulty for me to serve my people in any way. And, as far as Jammu is concerned, though none of MLAs from here is a Minister, soon it will be first Smart City of the State.

ADHIRAJ MALHAN: What is BJP’s view on legalising the Nepal route for return of youth from PoK.
SHARMA: It is for the Union Home Minister and Prime Minister of India to decide which route is right for return of youth from PoK. Those who want to return from PoK are desperate with the situation on that side and want to live a peaceful life. However, there is strong apprehension that some wolves might come in sheep’s coat and disturb the peace in state. The Central government will not compromise with the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country and will take right decision. The BJP is committed to safeguarding the interest of the country.

RAHUL BANSAL: The government is planning cashless economy but how will it work in Kashmir where internet services are snapped after one stone pelting?
SHARMA: “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”. People are using Paytm and local vendors are using modern gadgets for cashless payments and people in J&K will also adopt cashless transactions over the time. The dependence in internet will grow in daily life. Even stone pelting will stop because people will know that Internet services will be snapped if they throw stones.

NEERAJ SHARMA: During elections, BJP raised the issue of ceasefire violations, now there are so many violations happening. What is your take on this as State BJP president?
SHARMA: During NDA government, whenever ceasefire violations happened only statements were issued that a strong reply will be given to Pakistan. But the scenario has changed since the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assumed office. The government has given free hand to security forces and a befitting and strong reply is being given to Pakistan on the border whenever there is a ceasefire violation. They killed our 19 soldiers in the Uri attack, and we killed 40 in the surgical strike. Same strategy is being followed in reaction to ceasefire violations. Repeated ceasefire violations from the Pakistan show the frustration and depression of Pakistan. The people in Pakistan are also no longer supporting its government. Given the growing unrest in various regions, it is a matter of time when Pakistan will cease to exist.

AJAYDEEP SINGH: Being an MLA from Jammu West constituency, what development projects have you initiated so far?
SHARMA: I have given priority to my constituency by fulfilling the urgent needs of the people by macadamisation of streets. I will fulfill all the needs and aspirations of the people in my constituency. Besides, we plan to develop Jammu into a smart city.

ZAFAR CHOUDHARY: As Mufti Sayeed would always say, the alliance between BJP and PDP is literally the proverbial one between North Pole and South Pole. Has it been to BJP’s advantage or disadvantage?
SHARMA: (Avoids direct answer) Our government is the best Jammu and Kashmir has ever seen. Look at the schemes launched by Prime Minister Modi which are popular even among small children in remote corners of the state like Kargil.

ZAFAR CHOUDHARY: There has been a culture of coalition government in J&K since 1984, with one exception of single party rule in 1996. It has been like Congress with NC or with PDP. Now since BJP has crossed that divide. Are you looking at PDP as your potential partner for 2020 elections?
SHARMA: Last time we had set a target of 44 seats (the minimum required for forming government in J&K) but could win only 25. We have had introspection on why we couldn’t win more. For the next elections we are aiming 50 seats. We are working in such a way to retain 25 existing; there is focus on remaining 12 seats in Jammu region; we look at four seats in Ladakh with great winning potential. Additionally, we have identified some 10 to 12 seats in the Kashmir Valley. And don’t forget, we have a partner of two seats in Kashmir (Peoples’ Conference of Sajjad Lone) who are likely to improve their tally from the existing two seats.

Comment on this Story