Did Valley's aam aadmi inspire Kejriwal?
There is a Kashmir input to Aam Aadmi Party's rise in Delhi. Five months before the AAP went to polls, Kashmir's firebrand and uncanny politician Engineer Rashid dropped by at Kejriwal's Delhi residence to share the story of his rise from an aam aadmi to a state legislator.india Updated: Dec 17, 2013 19:55 IST
There is a Kashmir input to Aam Aadmi Party's rise in Delhi. Five months before the AAP went to polls, Kashmir's firebrand and uncanny politician Engineer Rashid dropped by at Kejriwal's Delhi residence to share the story of his rise from an aam aadmi to a state legislator.
"I was approached by Kejriwal's close aide Manish to have a meeting with him in July. Kejriwal was keen to know about my rise as a politician from a common man in place like Kashmir," Rashid told the Hindustan Times.
Jailed in 2007 for several months in separate cases, Rashid (44) surprisingly defeated ruling National Conference's old horse Sharief-ud-Din Shariq in 2008 from remote north Kashmir constituency of Langate, more than 90 km away from Srinagar.
"I shared my story with Kejriwal. I told him how I was persecuted by the security forces. I was left with no option but to contest polls to survive in the Valley," said Rashid, who claims that he had to sold cattle and land to pay bribe to escape the wrath of security agencies.
Rashid - widely respected in his constituency for his simple living - prefers to wear 'Khan suit' and owns only two pairs of shoes. He sees his role in AAP's shaping up as a formidable force in the recently-concluded Delhi polls.
"I told Kejriwal that I literally placed my pheran (long winter cloak) on the roadside and asked for `10 from passerby in the village as donation for the party. I collected `3,500 to pay as deposit to contest the polls," said Rashid, who was suspended from J-K Projects Construction Corporation after the police cases.
"I am a humble person but my story must have left an impact on Kejriwal. In AAP's victory, I see my victory. An aam aadmi (the common man) emerging in Delhi. He replicated in Delhi what I did in a small way in my district," said Rashid, who recently floated the Aawami Ittehad Party, which is planning to contest from at least five assembly seats next year.
Rashid sees a ray of hope in Kejriwal to resolve the festering Kashmir issue. "I asked him to come up with a stand on the Kashmir issue and a process to resolve the problem. He did not spell it. I am ready to support him in his endeavour to resolve the problem," said Rashid, who has became an eyesore for most separatist parties in the assembly by advocating tricky issues like clemency for Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and a dialogue with umbrella militant outfit United Jehad Council.
Perhaps, Rashid was the only politician from the Valley who rang up Kejriwal's team to congratulate them on winning 28 seats in Delhi.