Termed king-slayer after he defeated Dr Farooq Abdullah, Tariq Hameed Karra resigned PDP at the peak of 2016 unrest. After a two quarter pause, he joined Congress last week. From Delhi, he answered to some of the questions to Masood Hussain
Kashmir Life (KL): You were of the opinion of strengthening regional forces but after resigning from PDP you joined Congress?
Tariq Hameed Karra (THK): After resigning from PDP and as MP, I had maintained that I have only three options. One was to float a regional party. Second, to join an existing regional party that was NC and the third was to join a national party that was Congress. Besides, I also maintained that if a join a party, I would join on basis of issues because I did not want to join for the sake of joining. It was not the issue of maintaining a position, a status or just for the sake of rehabilitation. It had to be purely on basis of certain politically contentious issues. I want a forward movement in the resolution of Kashmir issue, I want to fight out the fascist forces and I wanted a protection to and strengthening of Article 370. I had equally maintained that wherever I will find a space on basis of these priorities, I would not hesitate to strengthen such forces.
As for as floating a new regional party is concerned, I was fully conscious of the fact that it will further fragment the electorate. That fragmentation could give advantage to the divisible forces and subvert the issue of my priority as a political worker. That is why I joined Congress.
KL: But in Kashmir, Congress is seen a creator of the Kashmir issue that you want to settle?
THK: Well if that be so, there is the premier regional party which is being accused of being facilitator in what you say. But that does not mean that there can not be a movement forward. My discussions with the Congress party were based on the premise that it is high time the resolution of Kashmir issue is to get a paramount consideration as the alienation on ground has reached an all time high. I am of the firm opinion that the lost ground can still be recovered if all the stakeholders put their sincere efforts in it.
As for as issue of forward movement on Kashmir issue goes, nobody can deny the fact when PDP and Congress were in alliance and ruled J&K between 2002 and 2008, there was a definite forward movement in it in shape of CBMS, like the LoC and the positive diplomacy. Five working groups were constituted by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. As I believe, they are more sensitive towards Kashmir. It is amply clear that Congress has been consistent on its policy in near past for the resolution of Kashmir issue and if you recall Mrs Sonia Gandhi as well as Dr Manmohan Singh are on record to have said that they are fully conscious about the flashpoint in the subcontinent – Kashmir issue.
KL: But even in Congress era, the state of human rights was same as it is today?
THK: As for as my discussions with Congress High Command are concerned I have made it amply clear that the human rights violations are a very grave issue which needs to be addressed. I insisted that the human rights are to be upheld at ground zero. To be very honest, I was quite satisfied when I found them equally worried about the issue.
This should be clear by the Congress role in 2016 unrest when all the leaders from this party including Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Dr Karan Singh amply demonstrated the party’s resolve and concern about the issue. Then, Congress was on the fore front of confronting the present dispensation in Delhi for their ruthless and inhuman handling of Kashmir. Moreover, you might be aware that the Congress President and Vice President were very vocal with regard to inhuman handling and mishandling by the incumbent regimes in Delhi and Srinagar.
KL: But are you aware of the state of Congress in J&K. It doesn’t have even a single Hindu face in the assembly?
THK: When I told you about the fragmentation of the secular state of J&K, I was referring to the massive polarization that fascist forces triggered during 2014 polls. I am very sure that Jammu electorate has understood the ill designs of BJP-RSS combine. They have become fully conscious of the fact that the secular character of the state needs to be revived and that can only be done by confronting an rejecting these divisive elements.
KL: Congress is weak in Jammu unlike Kashmir and Ladakh. Where will you be working?
THK: I would endure to work throughout the state and my paramount concern would be that Congress should emerge as a strong secular force in all the three regions. This ere is only way to confront these fascist forces.
KL: Could not you have done the same thing by joining the NC?
THK: See I told you, if you want to confront the decisive forces in the entire state, Congress is the only party which could fulfill the purpose. It is the only major force on the national level which has been doing this from the date of emergence of such elements. By putting my lot with the Congress, it should, in my opinion, yield much more than by working with any other force.
KL: But how will you convince your voter that Congress is the way out when you, till yesterday, were completely for regional forces?
THK: People have been witnessing the role of all political parties especially regional one for quite some time. It is Congress alone that did not compromise with these divisive forces. Besides, Congress is a force in the entire country, though out of power at the moment, would support the ideas which I have put forth before them. I believe my suggestions and ideas on Kashmir – both political and economic – would get an ownership from a national party.
KL: By the way, does it hurt you when you see the crisis in the ruling PDP of which you were a party not long time ago?
THK: I have been a co-founder of the party and I have given it my blood and sweat. But the very fact that it deviated from its core agenda and surrendered before the fascist forces was the major compelling force for taking such a hard decision. They not only surrendered before the fascists but became their collaborators and facilitators. The rest is history.
I tried my level best even during the life time of Mufti Sahab and during the stalemate about reforming the government after his death. Unfortunately, they had taken that route and lacked moral courage or will or wish to rectify the course of political suicide.
Though I am very pained in heart that a political party which has the blood and sweat of thousands of selfless workers in to its formation is on the path of decimation but I am equally satisfied that I made the timely course correction for my own self and in favour of the people of J&K especially for those who were subjugated, maimed, killed, jailed and blinded. My conscience stands very clear.
KL: But what are the right wing forces trying to achieve in J&K by being part of the governance structure?
THK: From the very beginning of the formation of this unholy alliance, I have been maintaining that RSS has been eyeing on Kashmir for last 60 years. At one given point of time, I had even suggested late Mufti sahib that PDP would be remembered as the facilitators and collaborators in history for helping RSS to implement their cherished desire of changing the political demography of this Muslim majority state. Moreover, you can see on ground that RSS has made its inroads at all levels in all regions at the official level today. What peple of J&K had never conceived is being seen with official backing today.
KL: Is RSS really powerful in J&K government?
THK: In my opinion it is RSS that is governing the state today. On all the contentious issues, the present dispensation is getting the nod either from Nagpur or from the representatives of Nagpur in the central dispensation. It is an open fact today that PDP has totally surrendered before RSS especially on certain sensitive and politically important issues which were to protect demography of the state.
Even the recent reshuffle or the induction of one single minister was at the behest and insistence of RSS hardcore for safeguarding their future interests in the governance and longevity of the government. I have complete knowledge about certain ministers from PDP in the present government who instead of reporting to the Chief Minister are reporting to their RSS bosses.
KL: Is Chief Minister aware of this all?
THK: I do not think the Chief Minister is not aware of these things. It might have been one of the guiding reasons for hurriedly jumping in to the formation of her government despite the fact that she had heightened the pitch of extracting something out of the box from the Delhi dispensation. Despite the fact I had been highlighting that the agenda of alliance is a mix of jingoism and loosely knit and far-fetched piece of paper. Immediately after this document was made public, which was not in public before the formation, both late Mufti sahib and the present Chief Minster had been defending it but after his demise it was the present Chief Minister who raised her fingers on its content as well as implementation.
KL: You have worked with both, the father and the daughter. What they are different in leading the state?
THK: I would not like to comment anything negative about Mufti sahib because he is no more around. But as for present Chief Minister is concerned, the only thing I can say is that she is the only agitational politician in J&K state today.
KL: And what about NC?
THK: NC is a deep rooted organization but it committed blunders for which people punished it. Those blunders and mistakes should be eye opener for them as well as other political parties including Congress.
KL: Do you think the NC and Congress should go together in the two Lok Sabha seats elections in the state?
THK: This has not been finalized as yet. In my opinion if the coming parliament election is fought in combination that would be the best way of realigning the secular forces for combating the fascist forces and its collaborators.
KL: So you are contesting for the seat you gave up?
THK: It has not been decided as yet so it is quite premature to say anything on this.