The youth leader of Indian National Congress, Salman Nizami shot to fame recently after Prime Minister Narender Modi mentioned his name in a speech during Gujarat elections. Nizami often stays in controversies and becomes a hot debate for prime time shows for national news channels. In an exclusive interview with an Editor-in Chief of The Legitimate Asem Mohiuddin he elaborates his experience as a controversial national youth leader. Here are the excerpts. Kashmir
Asem: You are in the national politics but always controversies are revolving around you?
Salman: It is your perspective of calling me as controversial leader but I take it as my opinion. While considering 10 years of my journalism career I wrote articles, whenever I wrote they were always hard-hitting and based on truth and facts. Whenever I speak, I speak on the basis of facts and truth that is the reason opposition including BJP feels tough to absorb and this makes me controversial.
Asem: During Gujarat elections you tweeted something controversial and Prime Minster Narender Modi accused you of abusing him. What is it actually that triggered the massive controversy?
Salman: PM is not much qualified as we have not seen his degrees yet. I have tweeted in a very simple way, a 10th class student could have easily understood. I had just made a comparison between Modi and Gandhi family with respect to their ‘sacrifices’ regarding Nation and Modi had exaggerated it. Subsequently, I did not get chance to explain it due to which some of my colleagues in party also got disappointed with me. But truth prevails.
Off late, when the reality came to fore about my tweets showing nothing inappropriate about Narender Modi, the BJP got a befitting reply in Karnataka elections.
Asem: It is to be said that you sell ‘Muslim Victim Hood,’ whereas democracy is all about ‘battle of ideas’?
Salman: It is not all about Muslims, I speak about minorities as well and minority is not any religion. In Jammu and Kashmir State Hindus, Sikhs and Christians all belongs to minorities. Actually the matter is of brutalism. Today the politics we have, whether India or America, it is sad as Muslims have become victim of Islamophobia. Muslims are denigrated everywhere for their religious belief.
Similarly, in India we see incidents like mob lynching (a huge gathering beating someone). I told Modi that people who sell beef and even export to Pakistan are not Muslims. If you (Modi) want to act and strictly impose the beef ban, the shops of these big business moguls must be shut.
There is good revenue to nation’s exchequer out of this beef trade but the victims of mob mentality are poor people. The people involved in killing those are from right wing parties why can’t they follow the law of land if there is any evidence against anyone violating the law. I am against mob mentality and selective implementation of law.
Asem: Do you want ban on Beef?
Salman: Yes, if there is an issue related to religion we should not go against it. Moreover, we have raised our voice at many places against alcohol ban but we did not find any Hindu making obstacles. In the same manner if Hindus do have any problem pertaining to beef we should respect their sentiment. After all there is law which everybody should obey. Hence, when this law is disobeyed by BJP persons how they are eligible to call themselves as Indians.
Asem: You talked about ongoing killings in Kashmir, it did not take place in BJP government in the valley nor will it stop further given to present situation? What about Congress government which ruled the state for many times and also stayed in power in Delhi for a long time. Why can’t you make them responsible for the messy state of affairs in Kashmir?
Salman: There is a big difference in circumstances which prevailed in Kashmir during Congress times and now. Today Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is like an orphan as BJP pulled out its alliance recently. However, Congress at center (government) has given full support to the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to ensure peace and stability in state. Even recently you see civilians are killed and then you have a chief minister saying that they have not gone to buy toffees at army camp. Congress had never such approach to the situation in Kashmir.
Asem: In Kashmir Congress carries a baggage of rigging the elections and supporting National Conference against the verdict of people in 1987 that marked the beginning of militancy. Even when it was in power, we in Kashmir got AFSPA, and the highest level of insurgency. Why to blame BJP which just had been in power for three years in state
Salman: You cannot blame Congress for all that as government then was run by VP Singh at the Center (Delhi) and Late Mufti Syed who was then the Minister of Home Affairs. So how is Congress responsible for all this? Moreover, Congress was in power for just two years during the time of Ghulan Nabi Azad and you have seen the revolution Azad brought in socio economic development.
However, being a Kashmiri I admit that behind all the evils and whatever circumstances people face in Jammu and Kashmir including insurgency it’s because of local politicians who ditch Kashmiri people with their empty promises, whether it is PDP, NC they are all selfish. A leader like Sajad Lone, who has been talking for Pakistan over 20 years, is now an ally of BJP for the sake of power. These sycophants (leaders) have actually put the people of Kashmir in trouble for the vested interests
Asem: I don’t think during the previous regime when NC-Congress was in power any development took place?
Salman: Gh Nabi Azad being Heath Minister at centre sanctioned 5 medical colleges. There are so many other developmental works that were sanctioned. But it was Omar Abdullah sahib who didn’t follow the projects for their execution sanctioned by Union government.
Asem: Why was Congress silent that time when it knew Omar is not delivering. Even recently BJP pulled out on same lines?
Salman: I must admit that the governance was flowing smoothly when Congress and NC was in power despite the shortcomings. All the projects sanctioned at the time of Congress will be completed in coming times if people of state give us opportunity to serve. However, the bigger challenge is the civilian killings and subsequent political tensions in state. What to do with the roads and development when you lose precious lives.
Asem: What is the solution?
Salman: BJP has shown arrogance and on the other hand Modi has his own way of making things done. For Atal Bihari Vajpayee we have a great respect as he did not show any arrogance. He tried to bring all the stake holders of Kashmir on table to ensure peace in the region. But the doctrine is failed and he continues to show arrogance.
Asem: As a Kashmiri Muslim how do you see your future in national politics?
Salman: Indian leadership doesn’t restrict a Kashmiri Muslim to come into mainstream. Gh. Nabi Azad today said in his statement that of course do not hesitate to killing militants, but for God’s sake don’t kill innocent people. What is their omission? It really hurts when a common man of BJP says that every person in Kashmir should be killed. With such statements the people of Kashmir feel hurt and dejected.
Pertinently, when calling people like Gh Nabi Azad as anti national by right wing leaders who served the country for nearly 40 years as the chief minister of state, and became the leader of opposition besides holding many portfolios in national politics who else in Kashmir would be a nationalist then. Is Sajad Lone the nationalist? Who use to abuse India for last 20 years and now joined BJP and suddenly becomes the nationalist. This mentality by right wing parties must be changed.
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