ESBD contesting LS polls to make Jammu as new centre of power: Ankur Sharma

Bivek Mathur
Ankur Sharma may be contesting the Parliamentary Polls with his newly floated and ECI acknowledged political party, Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal (ESBD), formerly Ikk Jutt Jammu, his face is not new to the people of Jammu region since he has been fighting for long for the issues of Jammu province through judiciary and otherwise.

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Be it highlighting the alleged Roshni Land Scam or allotment of lands to a particular community or not giving the minority rights to the Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir, Ankur Sharma has always tried to put Jammu region in the driving seat.
With announcement of his candidature for the Jammu Parliamentary Constituency as well, Sharma has pledged to fight for making Jammu as the new centre of power. Our correspondent spoke with him more about his plans. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q: What difference will the allocation of the Bansuri (flute) symbol by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal (ESBD) make?
A: Bansuri symbolizes the essence of Sanatani culture, which ESBD has ardently championed since its inception. From the outset, ESBD has stated its prime objective is to represent and promote this culture. The Bansuri also represents change, which we are sure, will definitely happen this time in the Jammu Parliamentary Constituency.
Q: What are the issues your party is contesting the polls on?
A: Our main objective is to establish Jammu as the new center of politics. For the past 75 years, the Government in J&K has been run from the Kashmir region, with the support of an elected Government in New Delhi. Kashmir-based parties have treated Jammu like one of their colonies. Ending this conventional style of politics is one of ESBD’s key objectives. We aim to end the discrimination against the Jammu region and elevate it to the status it deserves. Our agenda includes advocating for Jammu’s statehood, division of the Kashmir region into two UTs, with one UT dedicated to the victims of the genocide of 90s, and providing protection to cow and lands in Kashmir from a particular ideology.
Q: Do you think you can achieve all this single-handedly in Parliament if you win this election? Do you have any other roadmap prepared to achieve your objectives?
A: Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal is now a National party with a presence in most parts of India. Our candidates are contesting elections from many Parliamentary seats across the country. We’ve also decided to contest Assembly elections in almost all the States and J&K in particular to end the hegemony of one region (Kashmir) over the other (Jammu). However, since only Parliament has the power to liberate the Jammu region from this hegemony, we will ensure this is done if we are voted to power. Unlike BJP MPs, who predominantly speak about BJP’s national ideology, and Congress MPs, who highlight Congress’ ideology, forgetting about the interests of Jammu, we will work to end this style of administration. Our exclusive focus will be to end the culture where only the interests of Delhi and Kashmir are prioritized, if we are voted to power. We will put Jammu in the driving seat.
Q: Some critics suggest that your candidacy for Lok Sabha polls is primarily a strategy to gauge your strength for Assembly polls, given the challenge of competing against two major political parties with prominent faces. How do you respond to this assertion?
A: Given the worst-ever humiliation Jammu has faced in the past 10 years, the people of Jammu have resolved to vote for change. Our support from the people is our key strength, irrespective of the prominence of other candidates. We are confident that we will succeed with the massive support of the people, who are fed up with the mainstream parties that have prominent faces contesting the polls. While we will contest the Assembly Polls with full vigor, our primary focus is to end the culture of ruling Jammu from Kashmir and convey this message to the Parliament and the country.
Q: Do you think the elected MPs have failed to give representation to the idea of Jammu?
A: Absolutely, the elected MPs have miserably failed to project the idea of Jammu in the Parliament. They have only perpetuated the legacy of ruling Jammu through Kashmiri leaders with the support of Governments in Delhi. This totalitarian Kashmiri hegemony has relegated Jammu to a second-order status, with elected leaders of Jammu passively watching this unfold. To end this policy and empower nationalist ideology in the Jammu region, it is imperative for us to step into politics. The elected BJP and Congress MPs from Jammu have only adopted and perpetuated the ideologies of their parties, ignoring the interests of the Jammu region. We aim to end this vicious cycle where only the interests of Delhi and Kashmir are prioritized.
Q: What’s your stance on the restoration of Statehood and holding of Assembly polls?
A: We’ve always supported Assembly elections in the UT. As far as restoration of Statehood is concerned, Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal’s stand is clear: reorganize J&K in such a way that Jammu becomes a separate State, with the Kashmir division divided into two regions, one exclusively for the victims of genocide. We have been consistently fighting for this through Parliament, and we will continue to do so if given the chance to represent the people of the Jammu Parliamentary Constituency.
Q: What changes do you anticipate in your Parliamentary Constituency post-implementation of the Delimitation report? Is it going to benefit you?
A: More than the benefits from the Delimitation, it was important for the ruling dispensation to empower the feeling of nationalism in the region post-abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. However, this was not done. Instead, the Delimitation process, based on outdated census data, perpetuated the marginalization of Jammu. Despite presenting evidence of Census data manipulation to discriminate against Jammu and admission of the same by both BJP and Congress’ regional leadership, nothing has been done to correct the same. Delimiting constituencies based on the 2001 and 2011 Census is the biggest fraud committed by the ruling party against the Jammu region.
Q: Some sections of society believe you selectively target them, and they constitute your voting constituency. Don’t you want their votes?
A: We do not engage in politics of appeasement, nor do we contest elections solely for political gain. Our politics is rooted in nationalism, empowerment of historically neglected people of the Jammu region, and addressing their issues transparently. We speak on these issues without mincing words because it is necessary to correct historical wrongs.
Q: Some sections of society perceive you as more hardline than the BJP and speculate that you aim to join the BJP someday. Will that ever happen?
A: Our goal is to correct historical wrongs and injustices in the Jammu region. We established Ikk Jutt Jammu and received overwhelming support from across the country, leading to the scrapping of certain laws which were against a particular community and anti-Jammu. With increasing support, we have decided to contest polls across the country. However, joining the BJP is out of the question, as we view it as the B team of the Nehruvian Congress, perpetuating flawed policies. Our ideology focuses on empowering Jammu and correcting historical injustices, which differs from the BJP’s agenda.
Q: What voter turnout do you expect from your Constituency?
A: We anticipate a voter turnout of 65-70%, though recent disillusionment with mainstream parties may impact this figure. Nevertheless, we urge voters to consider ESBD as a viable alternative to address their concerns and aspirations.