KO Analysis: Is Karra PDP’s Mustafa Kamal?


Karra’s diatribe against the BJP: Sincere or Disingenous?

Tariq Hameed Karra, PDP’s Lok Sabha Member of Parliament, has made a set of assertions which fall along the spectrum of accusations and pleas. The MP from Srinagar has, among other things asserted that,  ‘the political leadership in New Delhi must rise above petty political considerations and invest liberally in the State to restore public infrastructure, revive economy and help flood-affected people to restart their livelihoods’. Karra further said  ‘this jugglery of words and the stinginess with which the Government of India is responding to the monumental tragedy of Jammu and Kashmir, compared to the generous announcement of aid for Nepal earthquake and flood-hit Uttarakhand, has invoked a general suspicion among the people about the policy of contempt being adopted by New Delhi towards the State. He further added it is because of these prejudiced policies towards Kashmir, that there has been always a inherent feeling of mistrust among Kashmiris towards New Delhi.

Karra is a senior leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which heads a coalition government with the BJP –incidentally the party in power at the Centre. On the face of it, Karra’s assertions- a compendium of allegations, accusations and pleas- are correct.  The nature –adversarial or cooperative- of Centre state relations from a mainstream political perspective have determined the tenor of mainstream politics in J & K. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, for instance, besides other factors, drew and attracted support from Kashmiris because of his publicly articulated adversarial stance against the Centre. Kashmiris loved him for this.  The well spring of emotion that Sheikh Abdullah tapped was the feeling of prejudice and hostility by the Centre towards Kashmiris. The point here is that there always has been both latent and overt mistrust amongst Kashmiris towards the Centre. This, in the current context has indeed been exacerbated by the Centre’s dilly dallying over the release of the flood relief package. Karra then is spot on.

Karra after admonishing the BJP then goes onto assert that the flood package has been delayed because it is feared that a major chunk of it would go to Kashmir. He then both chides and attempts to educate the BJP by saying that this fear would be naïve given the interdependent nature of the economies of Jammu and Kashmir.

All this is well and fine. Karra’s diatribe and pleas –flowery as they are- are well taken. But they raise questions. Why is Karra-a member of a coalition government- going public with his diatribe? Would it not be prudent for him, given that his party is in coalition with the BJP, to discuss and point out these issues to the BJP in private-away from the glare of the media? Is the coalition between the PDP and the BJP fraying? What is Karra’s real agenda?

Of course, none of these questions can be answered with certainty. We can but speculate.

The much touted flood rehab package is both PDP’s and BJP’s lifeline. The PDP’s popularity especially popularity has plummeted over the past months. Both the parties cannot  realistically afford to snap ties and part ways. They need each other and that too in a tight embrace with the flood rehab package as the only redeeming factor for them. The idea of the coalition fraying despite misgivings may then be ruled out. What then is Karra doing? There can basically be two theories about it. One is that Karra is being sincere in saying what he said; he is genuinely alerting the Centre to the follies of obstructing or delaying the rehab package with the hope of concentrating minds in New Delhi. The other reading or theory is that Karra is being disingenuous; his flowery rhetoric is meant to obscure the reality of an engagement and association with the BJP whose nature has been self serving and instrumental for both parties. From this perspective, the intended audience is not New Delhi but Kashmiris. Karra , by trotting a line that sounds adversarial vis a vis the Centre is pandering to the anti-Centre instincts (now more strong given that the BJP is in power) of Kashmir and playing to the gallery. In this schema, there may be a wink wink nod nod relationship between Karra, PDP and the BJP wherein Karra is playing the ‘fall guy’ for the party.( There may be a parallel at work here if this theory is right. Karra may be donning the avatar of Mustafa Kamal of the National Conference who would make provocative and controversial statements against the NC’s coalition partner, the Congress and the Centre)

Does all this – sincere attempts or posturing- matter? No. Not really. What matters are tangible, real and concrete measures and effects , on the ground, so to speak, that alleviate the miseries of people in the state; not flowery words that sound good. It will be the situation and condition that obtains in reality that will determine the thrust and direction of Kashmir’s politics and the fortunes of political parties. This , more than anything else, is the prosaic reality of Kashmir’s politics.

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