Why resignation over a portfolio change, not over a slaughter ?

  • KI Correspondent
  • Publish Date: Mar 3 2017 8:34PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Mar 3 2017 8:59PM
Why resignation over a portfolio change, not over a slaughter ?

                                                         Illustration

Karra is the first mainstream politician, in the recent Kashmir history, who resigned from PDP and Lok Sabha to protest against the killings of Kashmiri protesters

 

As two ministers in Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti led government, resigned over the first ever cabinet reshuffle of BJP-PDP coalition government, the resignation, which was later withdrawn by the ministers, not only uncovered fissures within the ruling People’s Democratic Party but it also exposed the ministers, who remained silent during six month long 2016 summer protests.

Both Syed Basharat Bukhari and Imran Raza Ansari have taken the resignation back and have resumed their work. The ministers, who didn’t even issue a single statement in the aftermath of the protests that erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen commander, Burhan Muzaffer Wani, on July 8, are being criticised by the opposition especially Congress for being narrow in their approach.

As government forces fired bullets and pellets on the protesters in summer 2016 leaving 90 civilians dead and over 15000 wounded, both Bukhari and Raza like other PDP leaders either shifted to Jammu or their fortified houses in Srinagar.

“They were given less important portfolios that is why Basharat Bukhari and Imran Ansari resigned. People of Kashmir would in no way appreciate their actions and will remember their opportunism”, says Tariq Hamid Qarra.

Former Member Parliament (MP),  Karra, who has now joined Indian National Congress, has credentials to criticise and condemn the PDP ministers.  On September 15, last year, he became the first mainstream politician, in the recent Kashmir history, who resigned from the party, PDP, and the Lok Sabha to protest against the killings of Kashmiri protesters.

“Every single day, Kashmiris are being butchered, fathers carrying coffins of their beloved sons, hundreds being blinded and thousands being injured…Kashmiri blood is being spilled on walls, lanes and drains of the valley. For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, people of Kashmir were not allowed to offer Eid prayers. Grand mosque and shrines were locked.  My apprehension that the PDP’s alliance with RSS backed BJP will impose religious ingression stand vindicated today,” Karra had said addressing press conference at his Shiv Pora residence before announcing his resignation last year.

“My conscience cannot take it any longer. My heart is bleeding and my soul is crying for the people of my homeland. Hence taking a call of my conscience and as mark of protest on moral grounds against the brutal policies of the BJP at the centre and the state government’s complete sell out and surrender before them, I have decided to disassociate myself from the primary membership of PDP and from the membership of parliament,” Karra had said.

Some PDP workers expected such political posturing from all politicians of the PDP, as the party claims to be architect of the self-rule and would always talk about restoring “peace with dignity.”

However, with an exception of Karra, the PDP leaders condoned the violence of the government forces against the civilian protesters or remained silent. Though the PDP insiders say Karra had his own axe to grind as he was not given any important post either in the party or in the state government and as an MP he was feeling left out, his decision to resign and level allegation of “genocide” against the state and the centre government, was seen as honourable exit from the PDP by Karra supporters.

Both Bukhari and Ansari, however, broke their sphinx like silence during the current session of the Assembly and defended Mehbooba Mufti government’s stand, when the opposition National Conference berated the PDP and BJP for committing grave human rights abuses during the summer of 2016. None other than the opposition leader, Omar Abdullah admits their “spirited defence” of the government.

The day Ansari and Bukhari resigned Omar Abdullah gave this tribute to the PDP ministers: “Both PDP ministers who resigned today had put up a spirited defence of the CM & her government in the assembly session. Fair reward?”

As in summer protests of last year around 1100 youths have got visually impaired and the New York Times described the blinding of Kashmiris teenage protesters including girls as an “epidemic of dead eyes” , the  incidents of the violence and protests were also reported from the constituencies of the both Ansari and Bukhari. Known as good orators in the party, both the leaders, however, refused to put their oratory skills to any use and instead maintained silence over the government handling of protesters and like all PDP ministers and MLAs later defended the government record in the budget session.

“It was strange when I heard that two ministers have resigned over the change of portfolios. It was nothing unusual had it happened a year ago. But it has happened after 2016 killings. In social media people are saying that the ministers found change of portfolios a bigger reason to resign than the killing of nearly 100 persons. It has shamed us again”, admits a second rung PDP leader, who pleaded anonymity.

The re-induction of Altaf Bukhari, in the cabinet, reshuffle of portfolios, and above all elevation of Naeem Akhtar as the Works minister didn’t go well with the other senior members of the party and the two ministers. As Basharat Bukhari was divested from the portfolio of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Relief and assigned Horticulture, he became more furious and was quick to tender a resignation. He shot a letter to the Chief Minister, in which, he cited “reasonable reasons” that compelled him to resign.

Bukhari reconciled with his fate after meeting the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for almost two hours.  The Chief Minister didn’t forward the letter of resignation of Bukhari and Ansari to the Governor N N Vohra, thus giving them ample chance to reconsider their decision.

Later after parleys between the senior PDP leaders, both the ministers agreed to withdraw their resignation letters. The meeting with Chief Minister ended the crisis for the party and the government. At least for time being.

Imran Raza Ansari, Sports and Science and Technology Minister, who expected a better portfolio, is likely to re-join his ministry after coming back from Iran. He too had a long conversation with the Chief Minister.

However, he has let the cat out of his bag and blamed rise and the rise of Naeem Akhtar in the party as reason responsible for “destruction of the PDP family.” 

Akhtar is a member of legislative council and has not fought the elections. He has now been assigned the portfolio of Public Works, considered as prize ministry. Earlier, as education minister he often had a brush with controversies and during the summer unrest he was at the  forefront defending the government policies. Even the militant outfit LeT had issued a threat to Akhtar as he was keen that the schools should remain open while the separatists  accused him of breaking the Hurriyat Conference long strike call through his emphasis on the opening up of schools.

“I think the impression in the PDP leadership about Naeem Akhtar is that he spoke when others remained silent. And that goes to his benefit at present”, said a PDP youth leader.

Ansari, however, told media persons that “people were resigning from the party and only reason for it was Naeem Akhtar.”

Akhtar, he said, has destroyed the PDP family.

No one among the PDP is happy with the latest reshuffle. Even two MLAs, Javed Mustafa Mir and Mohammad Ashraf Mir had to come out with a statement to dispel the rumours that they are resigning from the party.

Having such a state of affairs, the PDP in coalition with the BJP, looks not only a weak partner, but an ally, which is oblivious of public mood and public concerns after killing of nearly 100 protesters in 2016.