AIP merger with AAP: Rashid says ‘don’t need to ape anyone’

Awami Ittihaat Party (AIP) chief Abdul Rashid, who is considered to be close to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, on Sunday said ‘Kashmir people don’t need to copy anyone and have proved their worth by sacrificing everything and fighting against all odds’.


Reports had recently said the AIIP may merge with the AAP once the party founder Abdul Rashid knows about the stand of Kejriwal on the vexed Kashmir issue. 


Addressing a one-day day workers convention in North Kashmir’s Bandepur Rashid however, without naming Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party, said: his party will appreciate any such voice and party which will show respect towards sacrifices of Kashmir people and show its sincere commitment in resolving long pending Kashmir problem.


Sources in AIP had said, Rashid, the lone lawmaker from the party, before taking a final decision on the merger, wants to know about the AAP’s stand on Kashmir issue and for this purpose he is meeting Kejriwal in coming days.


“Both AIP and AAP have same stand on corruption, ending of VIP culture and other issues related to common people and both the parties held common people in high esteem. There is quite possibility that AIP will take shape of AAP and contest elections in Kashmir,” an AIP leader said on condition of anonymity.


Rashid had declined to comment over the issue, however, he had said shortly before the elections in New Delhi, he met Kejriwal and had a long discussion with him over various issues relating to people and governance.


“Kejriwal is a good friend of mine and my best wishes are with him. We have lot of similarities and both the parties are against corruption and VIP culture. I may give him full support once he clears his stand on Kashmir issue,” Rashid had said.


There is a Kashmir input to AAP’s rise in Delhi. Five months before the AAP went to polls, 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 had said.


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,” Rashid, who claims that he had to sold cattle and land to pay bribe to escape the wrath of security agencies, had said.


Rashid – widely respected in his constituency for his simple living – prefers to wear ‘Khan suit’ and owns only two pairs of shoes.