I Want To Extract Kashmir's Sick Tooth: BJP Candidate

15 November 2014
The Hindu
Zahid Rafiq

Srinagar: She was a dentist before she joined politics. Now she sees herself as a political dentist. For Hina Bhat, the Bharatiya Janata Party's only woman candidate in the Kashmir Valley and its most visible face, politics is a forceps and Kashmir an ailing person. 'I want to extract Kashmir's sick tooth,' Ms Bhat told The Hindu. 'I want to heal my home and my people and that is the only reason why I am in politics.' Daughter of two-time legislator and Member of Parliament Mohammad Shafi Bhat, the 35-year-old will contest her first election from the Amira Kadal constituency from where her father won all his elections. Ms Bhat believes only the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have the vision to develop Kashmir and give it a new lease of life. 'There will be growth in business and education. Our hospitals, schools and roads will be so much better. Only Modi can do that,' Ms Bhat said. Surrounded by a few party workers at her residence in Rajbagh, Ms Bhat listens to them as she sits on a plush armchair in a room that was submerged in flood waters for almost a month and is now covered with flexi-posters of Mr Modi. A woman walks out of the gates, happy and beaming at having met Ms Bhat, while a middle aged man seeks a BJP ticket from a constituency in south Kashmir. A few other party workers fix buntings with lotuses around the house. This is the first time that the BJP offices and residences of candidates are witnessing a rush of people. Ms Bhat said people who had criticized her for joining the BJP were now trying to join the saffron party themselves. 'My family was with me in this decision but a lot of people were surprised that I joined the BJP. Now they too have warmed up to the party,' she said. Ms Bhat left Kashmir when militancy started and studied in Delhi. She went to a dental college in Pune. After returning to Kashmir in 2007, she worked as a dentist at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science in Bemina. A divorcee, Ms Bhat lives with her six-year-old son at her Rajbagh residence, which also serves as her office. While her father won on National Conference (NC) and Congress tickets, Ms Bhat said neither party appealed to her. She said the Congress never grew in Kashmir, the NC had faded and the People's Democratic Party was only becoming big because of the NC's inefficiency. Ms Bhat joined the BJP on July 19. She said that during her time in the party, she met a few RSS leaders and found them very hard working. As a Kashmiri Muslim she has had no problems with the party and was glad she joined it, Ms Bhat said. While Ms Bhat faces a tough contest from the NC's sitting legislator, Nasir Aslam Wani, and the PDP's business tycoon, Altaf Bukhari, she said she was in politics for a long haul. She believes that Mr Modi's magic would help the lotus bloom in Kashmir this winter.