Rebel People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Tariq Hameed Karra, who was one of its founding members, resigned recently on the premise that the people in the ruling alliance were ‘acting more like Nazi forces’.
In a wide ranging interview with Kashmir Observer, Karra also claimed the RSS backed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had offered him tons of money to dethrone Mufti Mohammad Sayeed when he was the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Karra said the BJP approached him again with the same offer when Mehbooba Mufti was in a dilemma whether to go ahead with the alliance or pull out of it. Without naming the individuals, Karra describes many PDP leaders in the government as ‘political toddlers’ and ‘political paratroopers’ responsible for hijacking the philosophy of the party, bring Kashmir to the brink of destruction as seen today.
Calling Prime Minister of India, Narender Modi, as the modern day Alexander, Karra says the day is not far off when India would disintegrate should the Hinduisation of the India polity continue.
In a wide ranging interview with Kashmir Observer, Karra said the political days for the PDP have already ended and the only way to let the situation not worsen further is for Mehbooba Mufti to step down.
Excerpts of the interview:
KO: You had strongly resented the wedlock between the BJP and PDP knowing fully well it was not the same BJP what it used to be during Mr Vajpayee’s time. Why did it take so long for you to tender your resignation from the party?
THK: As a founder member of the party, I should have not been seen as somebody who’s dismembering the party and my sole objective was to save this party. It’s not the party consisting of persons, it is the philosophy of the party which I wanted to save. That is the reason that right from the day one I, have been opposing the “unethical wedlock” between the PDP and the BJP.
BJP, as you said is not the same as it used to be during the Vajpayee’s time, but ts aleays been the same. Modus operandi might have changed from Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Narendra Modi but the ideology behind, as for as Kashmir is concerned, is the same. RSS has had a cherished desire and design of intruding into the vitals of Kashmiri ethos. So, that was the guiding principle behind me to oppose the wedlock between the two.
Secondly, as you know Kashmiris were caught between two extremes in the 90s: of ultra nationalism and ultra separatism and in between, there was no space for anybody. So, we created PDP as a buffer between the two extremes and we succeeded in that because of our guiding principles which called for the resolution of the Kashmiri issue.
So, we absorbed both the sides and went forward and we said we will be the facilitators not the obstructionists in the resolution of the Kashmir’s issues. We wanted to create an opinion across the board that the resolution is imperative and we would act as a bridge between India and Pakistan on one side and between people of Jammu and Kashmir and India on the other. We would try to bring Hurriyat and the government of India closer to facilitate the dialogue process.
We’d also try that the misgivings between India and Kashmir should be removed.
KO: But when you saw that PDP was falling into the lap of RSS at the time of the announcement of the alliance with the BJP, why did you not resign at the moment?
THK: I was against the alliance from the day one. When I started opposing, I requested Mufti sahib, Mehbooba Ji publically as well. I warned them what BJP, RSS could not achieve in the last 60 years, they have achieved in 6 months and I was consistent with my request as well warnings to safeguard the philosophy of the party.
I wanted to safeguard the character of the party, its nature of being a buffer. It was not the persons but the philosophy had to be saved. Today, every mainstream party and politician has become irrelevant. Had the nature of that buffer been saved, it would not have been what it is today. So my consistent effort was to save that buffer character of the party.
KO: You think PDP is no longer the buffer party?
THK: That is my point. Unfortunately, press and media always cry hoarse when gags are imposed on them, but what to do when the media gags us, the person like me. I have been consistent in my stand that we are going on the wrong way. These two months my statements were not carried by many sections of the press. Anyways that is beside the point, but these two months were tough. My conscience wouldn’t take the tragic state of affairs. I felt suffocated. And I said enough is enough.
KO: It took over 80 deaths and 15000 injuries for you to decide to resign. Why so late?
THK: If the chief minister would have decided or I could have prevailed upon her to step down, we would not have come to this situation. My only concern was that the buffer character of the party should stay. Now, see what has happened. Everybody is irrelevant today. Of course I was conscious of what was happening. That is why I was crying. Of course I was conscious where the situation was heading to but I was trying that it should not worsen further. Even in between had I been able to or had I succeeded in changing the course of PDP by way of bringing them out of the alliance or by way of stepping down, may be the anger would have been doused.
KO: There’s a general feeling among the masses that PDP is a sinking ship.
THK: The perception is that PDP has gone on a suicidal path and rightly so. I feel it is a correct perception. That said I would add that the philosophy of PDP is still relevant. It may not be in the form of PDP. It may not be in form of “ABCD’ but the PDP’s ideological space is still relevant.
KO: Do you think the PDP headed by Mehbooba Mufti has vacated this ideological space and the party, as a result, is over?
THK: Yes, it is.
KO: PDP calls you a backstabber now?
THK: I am not bothered. I am concerned about the death and destruction. Whatever they have to say let them say. Time will prove who is correct and who is wrong. As far as PDP or its those small timers are saying, let them say. I’d only respond when Mehbooba Mufti would speak those very things herself which others are saying.
I didn’t respond to any of their comments about me. I think PDP backstabbed its own philosophy. It backstabbed the people’s faith.
KO: Are there more people in PDP who share your views?
THK: See, in my resignation I have said that I will leave it to their conscience. I would not do any such thing where I would be seen as destabilizing the government. I don’t want to be seen as a collaborator or something like that. In my political career, never ever have I done any such thing whereby I would be counted as somebody who is a collaborator or a conspirator.
KO: You’ve said that misgovernance and the irresponsible, egoistic and arrogant attitude of the people at the helm fuelled the anger among the masses. Who are these people in the PDP?
THK: In the first instance, I would like to say that the basis for today’s unrest was laid by the PDP’s alliance with BJP which was supplemented by misgovernance. I have said it earlier also during that period. And I have no hesitation in saying that PDP as a government could not perform even under the leadership of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Same Mufti Muhammad Sayed who lead 2002 government. Where Mr. Mufti faltered was by inducting political novices, political toddlers and political paratroopers, and as far as naming them is concerned, I leave it to your appraisal to see that which of these phrases fits whom.
KO: You’ve said, “PDP had gone back on its ideals and was treating people much worse than what Nazi forces did”. Comparing PDP with the Nazi forces is quite a statement.
THK: I am not comparing PDP cadre. I am comparing the people at the helm. Everything is being done minus the gas chambers. The gas chambers have been replaced by PAVA shells. Otherwise what is not being done which was done in those days.
KO: You also blamed India for adding “fuel to fire” in the Valley with its “arm-twisting attitude and imperialistic methods”.
THK: This is not the first time I have used such harsh words. In the first instance, I have the fullest respect for the institution of the prime minister. I said Mr. Narendra Modi was behaving like modern time Alexander the Great. Why so? Because Alexander the Great too had a wish to conquer the entire world at the tip of his sword by force. Same is the case with Mr. Narendra Modi as well. He wants to win the entire the entire India by force. Moreover, when I say the imperialistic, it again is about the attitude and the methods chosen by Mr. Narendra Modi.
I think BJP, RSS are under the illusion that by bringing Kashmiris on their knees by oppression, they would toe their line. Well, Mr. Modi’s agenda is to Hinduise the Indian polity. Whatever I am telling you is as a mainstream politician. I am still a mainstream politician and I will continue to be a mainstream politician. But being a mainstream politician and speaking for the resolution within the limits of the constitution doesn’t bar me from expressing my feelings and speak the truth.
In the Kashmir’s context, I need not to be first a separatist and then speak truth. Well, my conscience says whatever is happening is wrong. People of Kashmir have been shown one of the toughest faces India could ever show to Kashmir.
KO: Late Mufti Sayeed was undoubtedly a seasoned politician whose rise was seen as a counterbalance to the dynasty rule of the National Conference. Did you not, by proposing the name of Mehbooba Mufti as chief Minister, promote the same thing?
THK: I would like to say that I didn’t propose Mehbooba Mufti’s name. It was under a well thought plan that Altaf Bukhari should propose her name. Two people seconded it: Naeem Akhtar and Abdul Rahman Veeri. I was suddenly asked by Muzaffar Hussain Beigh to get up and on behalf of all the legislators to speak something on this. When I got up and I did and the video clippings will still be there I requested her to take over. I had a hope that Mehbooba Mufti will reverse all the wrongs.
The other thing that must be in your mind is that when I had a consistent stand for 13 months how did I attend the meeting. Until then I did not attend a single meeting convened by the PDP insisting as long as BJP was there, I wouldn’t participate in any of your meetings. In any of the meetings, I did not share the chair with the BJP. So much so, I didn’t share stage with Mufti Sahab because he was always surrounded by the BJP men.
How suddenly I got into the picture for those seven odd days has something very interesting behind it. Now is the time I should reveal because the events have been starting unfolding now for everything and for everybody. You’re the first person to whom I’m confiding this: While Mr Mufti was still alive, BJP approached me and asked me to come out of PDP with 20 members while offering me support of 25 members to form the government. That was to dethrone the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. I refused the offer point blank.
In the first instance I said I don’t want to destabilize this house because I have built it brick by brick. I said how do you expect me to join hands with you who has been the bitterest of your critics. I said don’t consider me as a sellable commodity. There’re two witnesses to it, one from Kashmir and the other from Punjab and the time will come when I’ll divulge their names also if need be. I was offered tons of money for dethroning Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and taking over as chief minister.
The second time they approached me was during that intervening period when Mehbooba Ji was in a dilemma whether to go ahead with the alliance or not. I was approached by one of the highest people in the system and the BJP hierarchy that you take over. I said I would not. They offered me all kinds of sops they could have. When I said I wouldn’t be willing to join hands with fascist hands, they even got angry. I have a witness for that for both occasions, that too a Kashmiri. Again I was offered tons of money. I said look at you, on one side you’re negotiating with Mehbooba Mufti and on the other, you’re pulling the rug from under her feet.
For reasons best known to them, they said, they don’t want her. They went to this extent that we would even accept anyone in the PDP who you’d recommend. It was after that they started looking for other options within PDP. Though they were after me, there were many applicants within the PDP who were willing to take the offer. I’m at a loss to understand as to why they came to me when at least five people in the PDP were more than ready to step in.
I said to them, if you’re trying to do any misadventure by imposing anybody else on Kashmir, then you’re a doing a blunder. So looking into their designs, I had to make a choice between a lesser danger and a bigger danger. To my political understanding, Mehbooba Mufti was a lesser danger than the plot they had in their mind. That was one of the major factors for me to come forward, hold the hand of Mehbooba Mufti which she requested for. I underline it, the hand which she requested for. She came to me and we had a long chat there which it is not ethical for me to reveal but the only motive for me to come forward was to counter those RSS backed moves of planting somebody else which would have been a bigger danger for Kashmir.
Fortunately I stand proved. Had it been somebody else which I know who he was, which most of the people here know who he is, today if the death toll is 80, it would been 800. Kashmir would have been sold out like anything, your everything would have been traded had I not come forward at that very juncture. I warned Mehbooba Mufti that there’re certain people who have failed your late father and by continuing with them, you’d ensure your failure as well. This was not a change in my ideology but a change in the strategy to save Kashmir.
KO: But with those ‘toffee and milk’ statements and ‘I’d go with BJP a thousand times’, Mehbooba Mufti didn’t prove any better than those who you said ‘were out to sell Kashmir’.
THK: I didn’t say she proved any different. To my understanding, she still was the lesser danger. She would have resisted—whether she did or she did not, is different.
KO: That says there’s no cohesiveness within the PDP?
THK: Had there been any cohesiveness in the party, things would have not come to this stage. They’re labelling me as backstabber. I’m saying this because they are taking advantage of my silence. I’ve never done anything unethical in my life. I’m still confining myself within the ethical limits by not naming those persons—neither the applicants nor those who approached me. I’ll still hold those ethics very closely.
KO: What’s your next plan? There’re rumours that you’re mulling floating your own party.
THK: The paramount consideration for me today is to save this death and destruction. I realize by my resignation, neither the Government of India nor the state government would fall, but I’m trying to build a pressure at the local, national, even at the international level to stop this death and destruction and change the mindset of all political parties in India.
I would like to warn them, if you think the fire in Kashmir would not cross the Pir Panjal mountains to reach all the way to Kaniya Kumari, you’re living in a fool’s paradise. Don’t be under any illusion that Kashmir and Kaniya Kumari are located far away from each other. At a seminar, I made it amply clear that if this Hinduisation of Indian polity is not stopped, the day is not far when you’d see India disintegrating.
KO: You would not stay at home and do nothing, neither would your political career come to an end abruptly especially in the light of what you said ‘the philosophy of PDP is very precious to me’, I’d come back to my original question, would Tariq Hameed Karra float his own party?
THK: Today thinking of any option or any such move would be a misadventure because as of now everybody belonging to the mainstream is irrelevant. Every political party is irrelevant as on date and I include myself in that. Let this death and destruction stop, then only I can think of any movement forward in pursuit of the objectives and the goals I have in my mind. Given the political nature of Kashmir, a buffer between the mainstream politics and the aspirations of the common people is always imperative under whatever shape or name.
KO: What are the chances of Tariq Hameed Karra returning to the PDP fold if Mehbooba Mufti or others in the party start behaving the way you’d like?
THK: None. Reason: the philosophy with which the party was floated is no longer the property of the PDP. They have already lost the plot. The statements that the alliance with the BJP is the unification of North and South pole, my belief as a Muslim is that North Pole will come to the South Pole only on the Judgement Day.
KO: What do you think Mehbooba Mufti should have done to quell the unrest? What went wrong? Would you have done something else if you were at the helm?
THK: Everything from the day one went wrong. The alliance with the BJP was a wrong a decision. I wouldn’t have been with the BJP at all and hypothetically speaking, I would have come out of the BJP immediately. There was no big science behind it to predict the dangerous consequences of the Burhan fallout.
KO: PDP it looks like has shelved its idea of self rule. The cry on the road is for Azadi? Do you think that idea is saleable anymore?
THK: Self rule is not something like a permanent solution to Kashmir issue. Things like Self Rule, Autonomy or if at all that Achievable Nationhood is considered seriously are the different names of the same thing with little variations. The idea behind it is a sustainable, workable and something acceptable to all the stakeholders involved in Kashmir issue. All these are not formulae, neither should they be taken so but they represent simple ideas to ultimately result in a permanent and a lasting solution to Kashmir issue. Some good points taken out from each of these can form a basis to move forward in the right direction.
KO: What’s the way out of the current imbroglio? What end do you predict of this ‘uprising’?
THK: There’re two aspects to it: Political and administrative. On the ground, we’ve witnessing administrative failure and the vicious circle we’re caught in. We have to have one set of measures for it and for the political aspect of it, we have to have other set of measures. To my understanding, the first and the foremost thing is to douse the anger among the masses.
Jingoism, provocative statements and the challenges being thrown are oxygen to this whole thing. If this government goes, it would bring down the anger of the people because in that case, the people would have some sense of achievement that at least we have brought down the perpetrators. I have been given an impression that even my resignation had a cooling effect. There on, without any deceit in the mind, things could move on. It’s very unfortunate that three prime ministers of India used certain terminology with regard to the resolution of Kashmir. Narsima Rao said ‘Sky is the limit’, Rajiv Gandhi said ‘Anything short of Azadi’ and Atal Behari Vajpayee said ‘Within the ambit of Insaniyat, Jhamhoriyat and Kashmiriyat’. Had any of these three statements been institutionalised, this would have become a benchmark for the movement forward for the resolution of Kashmir issue.
KO: Let’s say if the government—State or the Centre—does not rise to the occasion and the status quo is maintained, what picture of the current scenario do you paint for the next one or two months?
THK: I don’t know. All I understand is Kashmiris are pretty intelligent and they have developed enormous adaptability to live with the war-like situation like Palestinians. Since the eruption of militancy, they have learnt to live in the war zone. This thing should not be overlooked. If the RSS or the BJP are lulling in this idea that through oppression, repression and suppression, they would bring Kashmiris on their knees, they are living in a fool’s paradise. RSS and BJP facilitated by the PDP have waged a war on Kashmiris. By this I’m trying to bring home the point that the RSS driven BJP should change its strategy towards Kashmiris. Your jingoism will serve no purpose.
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