“I am resigning from the basic membership of PDP as a mark of protest against civilian killings in Kashmir,” said Tariq Hameed Karra in a press conference on Thursday. Had it not been tragic, it would have been farcical. It seemed that conscience keeps a clock all its own, in the case of this gent.
The only question was when, rather than whether, the Kashmir MP who resigned from the PDP and Lok Sabha on Thursday would part ways with the party he was one of the founding members of. After party supremo Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s death earlier in the year, Tariq was seen to be jockeying for a position of strength within the party, hoping to play kingmaker if he could not be king.
He was also seen by some as heading the faction within the party that advocated termination of its power-sharing alliance with the BJP. Well before Mehbooba Mufti took oath as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, it was clear that Karra had lost his gambit.
Things would have meandered along, as is typical of mainstream politics in Kashmir, as sleepily as the Jhelum does in winter and a denouement come in due course had separatist politics not entered yet another violent phase, this time of the uncontrolled variety. A lad called Burhan Wani, who had acquired a bit of a Robin Hood persona, had his young life abruptly interrupted mostly because, unlike the band of merry men of Sherwood forest, his band of boys was engaged in the rather serious business of waging war against the State using the instrumentality of terror, and that road leads unequivocally to the end it did in his case.
That his death would cause the massive reaction it did was not anticipated, and took everyone by surprise. Everyone, that is, except for those who had planned for an ‘insurrection’ in any case and for whom the death of our own, faux Robin Hood came in handy. With hindsight, it can be safely concluded that the sheer scale of violence that overtook the valley on 9th of July, 2016, required advance planning of logistics of some level and a co-ordinated plan of execution. The appearance of Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Abu Dujana at several venues in the theatre of violence before, during and after that time could not have been a mere coincidence. That he is still at large, and possibly active in the same area, is a continuing cause for concern.
Soon, casualties started to mount. What was worse, from the perspective of the image of Mehbooba Mufti’s fledgling government, the injury list grew steadily and pellet-stricken pictures painted the handling of the situation by the administration in a very poor light. The stage was set for Karra to make his move. That he did not do so till now is what needs to be understood. It would seem that he was hedging his bets and was still nursing hopes of staging a coup within the party. But Mehbooba Mufti has been running a tight ship in the case of the party at least, even as her administration appeared to be unable to control the spiralling violence.
Having bid his time, Karra has now come out, all guns blazing, and laid all responsibility at the door of the beleaguered Chief Minister and thrown in the Prime Minister for good measure. In doing so, he is trying to replicate what Mufti Mohammed Sayeed did when he founded the Peoples’ Democratic Party, occupy the ‘soft secessionist’ space in mainstream politics. It would be relevant to point out here that Karra has been a strong votary and one of the principal articulators of the ‘self-rule’ theory.
It is being said that Karra is likely to float a new political outfit with a couple of Congress legislators. He has already appealed to other legislators to listen to the voice of their conscience and resign from whatever house they have a membership of. If, as is expected, the appeal evokes some response the political landscape in Srinagar may get simplified, or further complicated, depending on from where you look at it.