On 15 September 2016, Tariq Hamid Qarra, announced his resignation from the membership of the Indian Parliament and also from the basic membership of the ruling People’s Democratic Party. He cited atrocities committed by armed forces against Kashmiris as the reason for his resignation. However, given the habit of “mainstream” politicians to take U-turns on seeing their political ambitions foiled it is rather difficult to believe that it was a normative decision.
Tariq Qarra, was among the founding members of the PDP. He looked upon himself as the successor of former Chief Minister Mufti Saeed. Also, he considered himself to be most experienced politician in the Party after Mufti. The latter, however, saw to it that no one among the PDP bigwigs should prove to be a hurdle in the way of daughter Mehbooba’s ascension. Mufti managed to sideline Tariq Qarra and another PDP bigwig, Muzaffar Beg, by putting them up as candidates in 2014 Parliamentary elections. Thus, they ended up in New Delhi leaving the field open for the supporters of Mufti dynasty. When Mehbooba succeeded Mufti as CM, they felt ditched. Their indignation against Mehbooba-led PDP grew in intensity when new-comers such as Nayeem Akhtar and Haseeb Drabu rose to eminence in the party and the government.
Muzaffar Beg was the first to criticize dynasty politics during a lecture at Central University of Kashmir on 28 November 2015. Yet in the same lecture he said that he would support Mehbooba if she became Chief Minister because, according to him, she was his sister. Perhaps he knew that New Delhi was more amenable to Mehbooba’s ascension. Otherwise there was/is no such thing as brother and sister in power politics. For that matter Bakshi used to say that Sheikh Abdullah was his article of faith. Yet he treated the Sheikh very badly in 1953 and thereafter.
Both Muzaffar Beg and Tariq Qarra failed to take lessons from the political career of Afzal Beg. The latter supported Sheikh Abdullah through thick and thin hoping some day to succeed him. But Sheikh did not care a fig about his 40-year loyalty when in September 1978 he asked all the National Conference legislators to sign an oath of allegiance to his person. Afzal Beg’s political career came to a sorry end when he refused to sign the oath because he perceived that Sheikh actually meant to pass him over for his son vis-à-vis succession. Afzal Beg had kept Sheikh politically alive after his dismissal in 1953 by providing him the platform of Plebiscite Front which he (Afzal Beg) founded in 1955. In 1975 Afzal Beg dissolved the Plebiscite Front and re-established National Conference for Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah passed NC on to his son leaving Afzal Beg empty handed.
When Tariq Qarra joined Mufti Saeed in late 1990s, he displayed a family tag. He belonged to the Wani dynasty of Batamaloo who produced leftwingers, Mohiud-Din Qarra and G.M. Sadiq. Sadiq diluted autonomy of Kashmir in 1964 and abolished the offices of Prime Minister and Sadri-Riyasat. Mohiud-Din Qarra supported Indian intervention in Kashmir in 1947. In early 1953, he set up pro-Pakistan outfit called Political Conference. In April 1977 he established a unit of Janata Party in Kashmir. From 1953 to 1977 he paid service to plebiscite.
Tariq Qarra (and Muzaffar Beg) helped Mufti Saeed to set up PDP in 1999 as an extension of BJP to create space for competitive electoral politics in militancy hit Kashmir. Tariq Qarra’s contention that BJP and PDP were/are temperamentally opposed to each other, and that therefore PDP should not have formed coalition with BJP, is a travesty of truth. The truth was/is that PDP and BJP were/are natural allies. BJP funded the creation of PDP which was a masterstroke. Their purpose was to end NC’s monopoly on “mainstream” politics and to counter the self-determination movement.
While announcing his resignation, Tariq Qarra insisted that the people of Kashmir felt betrayed by PDP’s allying with BJP and RSS because PDP had sought votes to keep RSS and BJP away from Kashmir. But then BJP had sought votes on the promise that they would save Kashmir from father-daughter and father-son duos; and that they would abrogate Article 370 of Indian Constitution; etc. They went back on their promises. Yet there was no revolt in Jammu Province against them where they won 25 Assembly seats.
Two days after Tariq Qarra’s resignation, Kashmir Congress chief G. A. Mir stated that Qarra’s resignation proved that PDP cadres and people of Kashmir were indignant with PDP-BJP alliance. Both Mir and Qarra were keen to project the present revolt in Kashmir to be against the alliance.
However, the ground reality is different. Kashmiris are tired of the political uncertainty that has plagued them since 1947. They want to see the Kashmir Dispute resolved. They want India to start a dialogue with Pakistan, the other party to the Dispute. Commander Burhan’s killing only worked as a trigger for the present revolt.
Tariq Qarra, through his resignation, is misleading Kashmiris as well as New Delhi into believing that the present uprising is against PDP-BJP alliance. He wants to deal a blow to Mehbooba. To this purpose he is trying to exploit as excuses the PDP-BJP alliance and the atrocities committed against Kashmiris by the armed forces at their behest.
If Mehbooba government is dismissed it would satisfy Tariq Qarra’s wounded ego only half way. He will not become CM. There are so many contenders waiting in the cue: Omar Abdullah, G. A. Mir, Muzaffar Beg, and even Altaf Bukhari (because of his money power).
—Views expressed by author are personal