Former PDP minister Tariq Hameed Karra recounts how the ‘unholy alliance’ was made
Srinagar: Tariq Hameed Karra needs no prompts to speak. Being in an enviable position when he can tell his detractors, ‘I told you so’, Karra minces no words. A founding member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 and a long-time friend and associate of late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, Karra quit the party in September 2016 five months after Mufti Sayeed’s daughter, Mehbooba Mufti ascended her father’s position. He is now with Congress party in which he has formed a Kashmir Group with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as its chairperson.
“The fact that Mehbooba Mufti went to the National Conference yesterday (August 8) to muster support for Article 35A vindicates my stand and exposes her helplessness,” says Karra sitting in his living room, every corner of which is a showcase of Kashmiri craft.
“PDP believed in the inclusive polity of India, in which there was no room for communalism,” he continues. “On those grounds alone, BJP was our natural opponent. How could we be in an alliance with them?” He pits the founding philosophy of the PDP — Kashmir is an unresolved issue which needs to be resolved by talks — against BJP’s avowed goal of complete merger of the state into India to underline the difference between the two parties. “Where is the meeting ground?” he poses.
Giving a chronology of the events which led to the formation of what he calls an unholy alliance; Karra says that 2014 was an extremely difficult year for the Kashmiris as three significant events followed each other in quick successions. The General Elections in June which brought the BJP back to power, the devastating floods and the assembly elections in November which for the first time polarised the state.
According to Karra, given the tardiness of the central government’s response to the calamity caused by the floods, the general perception in the Valley was that the BJP was holding back as far as rescue, relief and rehabilitation was concerned.
“We had started feeling the negative vibes emanating from the Centre. This was not Vajpayeeji’s government. Hence, when the assembly elections approached, we fought them against the BJP-RSS combined. The people trusted us and believed that the PDP was the only force that could stop BJP in the state. We won 28 seats,” he says.
But the BJP won 25 seats in the Jammu region, leaving the PDP in a bind. Karra says that when the results came out there were murmurs within the party that it should align with the BJP. The argument given by the votaries of this alliance was that the future government of J&K should be on the right side of the central government to ensure adequate rehabilitation of the flood victims. Karra was opposed to this. He wanted to ally with Congress.
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