Third Front is a platform for less privileged

Date Dec 26, 2013 Interview by

  • Parties with huge manpower crush the voice of the common masses
  • We all know corruption is a menace and we want to get rid of it
  • I am sure there is something common between us (Separatists and Mainstream) where we can work together for the larger good of the society
  • Merely sharing seats and coming to power is not our aim
  • Let separatists speak in their own way. After all, everybody works for the welfare of the masses
  • NOTA is not going to work

One of the known communist faces in J&K, MY Tarigami, the sitting MLA Kulgam has been part of the leftist movement ever since he entered politics. Following NC decision of leaving the Kulgam seat to CPI (M) General Secretary in J&K in 1996 Assembly elections, Tarigami was elected to the lower house for a record third term in 2008. In an interview to Reporter Abid Rashid Baba, Tarigami talks about the recently formed Third Front, its policies and the future course ahead.

Excerpts:

Tell us how you joined politics?

I don’t have any political background as far as my family is concerned. It so happened that in 1967 itself, in Katrusso, a village in district Kulgam, farmers were forced to share their produce by some political bigwigs. I as a teenager raised concern that Land Reforms Act is in place and farmers should be given their due share. Shortly, Police arrested me along with my family members and relatives. This Police crackdown forced me to join Politics. It is a significant event in my Life.

You have been demanding stringent laws for crimes against women. Do you think government is doing enough for the empowerment of women in our state?

No, see. In 21st century we should think on modern lines. We should give up this orthodox thinking and narrow outlook. Women should enjoy every right. Imagine world without women (Laughs). They deserve every right. By not empowering women, you are doing injustice with the most sacred creature on the face of this earth. So we have no right to snatch their rights.

How did the concept of Third Front came to fore? Was it spontaneous or on anvil for a long time?

No, It is not spontaneous; we have seen there are certain traditional political parties in our state and in rest of the country also; these parties with huge manpower crush the voice of the common masses. Voice of the common people, exploited, downtrodden is not heard, so we thought why not to speak on behalf of such less privileged people, hence Third Front.

How is Third Front an alternative? What new you have to offer?

We never said it is an alternative but we suggest people with common cause, approach, concerns come closer and join hands. It is not merely replacing one type of government with another. It is an attempt which can bring us on a broader platform so that alternate policy setup can emerge which can be beneficial to public in general and youth in particular.
I am sure there is something common between us (Separatists and Mainstream) where we can work together for the larger good of the society. Can’t we make a united forum so that we all will approach GoI for the revocation of Draconian APSPA which is no longer relevant here. We all know corruption is a menace and we want to get rid of it.

People’s United Front resembles the erstwhile Muslim United Front which shook the castles of NC way back in 1987?

At that time, MUF’s emergence was in a particular political context. Now the time has changed altogether but there is a necessity for united approach and united afford for the redressal of the legitimate grievances of Public which are long pending.

It has been widely reported that the aim of the Third Front is to diminish NC, PDP prospects from coming to power. Don’t you think that restricts the scope and doesn’t make any social change in the politics of Kashmir?

I don’t agree. This is an accusation which is unacceptable to us. Merely sharing seats and coming to power is not our aim.

Do you think that Third Front can have enough numbers in 2014 elections to form effective opposition or even come to power?

We are yet to discuss the details about the coming elections but as I already put it Vote bank is not the only aim of our party.

The number of MLA’s associated with the Front is very small. How do you plan to improve?

Let us give people a chance to cast their valuable vote which can bring a ‘Change Agent’ in front of them. We want Intellectuals; those who care for people, who can help the needy. We want quality in our Front. Who knows what will happen in coming elections. People are the best judges. Now the ball is in their court. I am sure they want to have a good number of people in our Front i.e. Awami Muttahid Mahaaz.

What is the stand of Third Front on the disputed nature of Kashmir? How did CPI (M) build consensus with Samajwadi Party?

No second thought, we too accept it as a conflict zone. It has a historical disputed nature. Peace in south Asia is in doldrums due to Kashmir Issue. Peoples United Front has been demanding acceptable solution of this grave issue which is need of the hour as well. I will tell you genuinely, we have suffered too much. Enough is enough. We have to find new methods so that we can settle this complex Issue. People of the region should represent their aspirations regarding their own Land. We should come closer and enter into the dialogue process.

PDP states that NC is bringing shame to democracy by arresting Geelani again and again. NC additional general secretary Mustafa Kamal says Geelani disturbs Law and order and instigates Violence. How do you see such restrictions?

He has been arrested for unknown reasons in the past also. I think it is not a good step. Why to choke the voice of the separatists. They should be given the right to speak. Let them speak in their own way. After all, everybody works for the welfare of the masses.

When government can ensure smooth conduct of more than 6 lakh yatris every year. Can the ban on Moharram Processions from Last 23 years be justified?

It is very unfortunate. There are many vested elements in our society who divide people on the basis of religion, caste, creed etc. They try to create wedge between the different communities. Unfortunately we have witnessed sectarian clashes as well. This is their old tactic to divert the attention of the people from the issues which are of prime importance. Instead of providing opportunities to sort out the issue, putting restrictions are not going to work in the long run. I appeal those who are at the helm of affairs to throw this stick of restrictions in a dustbin and Use Non-violent means. I hope the issue will be addressed soon to avoid further complications.

Tosamaidan Lease to Army will expire in April 2014. Adjoining villages who have bore the brunt by losing 64 lives and many injured have threatened mass migration if Army doesn’t vacate the meadow turned firing range on time. What is your take on this issue?

Tosamaidan is a tourist destination. They (Army) should identify some other area. It is a breathtaking meadow which can boost the tourism sector. Government must facilitate and use it for the upliftment of the residents of the area. They have witnessed sleepless nights now they want to breathe in a fresh air and want to live in a cool, calm and peaceful atmosphere.

Political analysts termed the recent meeting of Kashmiri Separatists with Pak PM advisor Sartaj Aziz a futile exercise. BJP president Rajnath singh termed it as a ‘Diplomatic Blunder’ by UPA while Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said, “Let them talk, They have been talking since Kargil War.” Do you think the solution of the Kashmir Issue lies in the dialogue?

Yes. We are peace loving people. Wars have failed to achieve anything. Any amount of violence or use of force, weapon from either sides only result in destruction, mass graves, enforced disappearances, mysterious Killings, rapes, murders and what not. That Is quite evident when we see today’s picture of Kashmir. Even if there are repeated failures in the dialogue process due to some misunderstandings between the two sides, we should not give up. We must improve our relations with our neighbors.

What kind of scope do you find for your party in Kashmir?

We are looking at a broader perspective. We are looking beyond Elections.

Notwithstanding the NOTA option, any candidate who receives the highest number of votes other than the NOTA (none of the above) would be declared elected. So, how is NOTA going to help in choosing a politically sound, transparent and people-friendly candidate?

Incorporating NOTA in the EVMs is just to sensationalize the whole issue, nothing else. It is of no use. You are pressing NOTA option to show dissatisfaction towards all those candidates in the list but you can express it by not voting also. That option is open with the electorate already. Suppose if there is 40% turnout and 60% boycott, the candidate will be chosen from the 40% electorate. So how it affects the electoral process itself. What is the fun of introducing this option, I don’t know. It is not going to work.

Is there any possibility of demilitarization in near future?

I don’t think so because for that both India and Pakistan should have to develop mutual cooperation. It is a very serious issue. As far as our party is concerned, we want gradual demilitarization from this entire zone. It has remained our agenda.

Former Army General VK Singh revealed that Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir took 1.19 Crore to topple the govt. He opened the Pandora’s Box further by saying that all J&K Ministers are on Army Payroll since 1947. What is your take on that?

Rubbish, to say the least. We as a forum have demanded that there has to be a thorough probe. Whatever he said is a mere allegation. Secondly Army or any other security agency for that matter must not cross their Limits as per their mandate. They must not either overtly or covertly influence the political process. They are there to safeguard the lives of people. So we demand a probe.

But what happens to those probes later should be an eye opener for all of us?

I agree, people don’t get justice here. Various probes have been ordered in scams and scandals in which top brass have been involved like Jungle encroachment scam, Sex Scandal, CET scam, Fake drug Scam and numerous others. Tell me then what else can we demand. Our CM is the head of the Unified Command. He should revolutionize the whole system by making it accountable and corruption-free.

What Kind of a place a common man finds in your party?

We believe in public because they possess power. It is ultimately the precious vote of a common man which makes you their representative so that we can shape the society. We further believe that sovereignty lies with the People. Our party represents the voices of dissent. People should come forward, make necessary changes in the system itself. For that ‘change’ Struggle is required against the ill-elements. We wish to be part of that change.