National Conference leader Syed Mushtaq Bukhari on Tuesday resigned from the party citing “untenable relationship” with the leadership over the “Pahari cause”, Greater Kashmir reported.

Bukhari has been demanding Scheduled Tribe status for the Pahari community – a social and linguistic minority that resides in the mountainous region of Jammu and Kashmir. They have been demanding for the Scheduled Tribe status for 30 years.

Recently, the delimitation commission, formed to redraw boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir, had also suggested Scheduled Tribe status for the community, according to The Indian Express.

After his resignation on Tuesday, Bukhari said that he would not hesitate in supporting any party which will help the Pahari community in achieving the Scheduled Tribe status.

“For me, there can be no compromise on the demand for ST status for Paharis, hence this decision,” Bukhari said, according to Greater Kashmir. “They, with whom we’ve spent over forty years, are negating our cause, so how can we still stay with them? This is hurtful for me too but I’ve no choice and I’ve resigned.”

Bukhari said he met National Conference President Farooq Abdullah and had a “heated argument” over the Pahari cause, following which he submitted his resignation.

He added that Abdullah had accused him of having joined the BJP, according to The Indian Express.

“Your [Farooq Abdullah] constant insistence on me foregoing the Pahari cause has made this relationship untenable for me,” Bukhari wrote in his resignation letter.

BJP spokesperson Sunil Sethi said Bukhari’s resignation was a fallout of the Pahari community’s growing disillusionment with the National Conference. Sethi claimed more Pahari leaders would quit the National Conference, Congress and People Democratic Party to form their own political front.

Several prominent National Conference leaders such as Devender Singh Rana, Surjit Singh Slathia and Anil Dhar have recently quit the party. Rana and Slathia later joined the BJP.