JEHANGIR ALI | 19 DECEMBER, 2018
Two more leaders join NC
SRINAGAR: The troubles of the Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti are far from over with two more key leaders, who were expelled from the party yesterday, joining the National Conference today.
The party had yesterday expelled Basharat Bukhari, brother of assassinated journalist Shujaat Bukhari and a former minister in PDP-BJP coalition government, and Peer Mohammad Hussain, from the basic membership.
Today, Basharat, a former MLA from north Kashmir’s Sangrama constituency, joined the National Conference in presence of the party president Dr Farooq Abdullah and his deputy and son, Omar Abdullah, in Srinagar.
Another former minister, Peer Muhammad Hussain, who served as Wakf board chairman in the previous dispensation and was also expelled for “anti party” activities, also joined the National Conference.
“Mehbooba ji has grown a lot and it’s not possible for me to reach that level. And why should I disturb her again and again? I don’t want to be disrespectful with her. As a mark of respect I left the party,” Bukhari told reporters.
Hussain blamed the party’s decision to ally with the BJP for his “compulsive” exit, “It is very difficult to leave one party and join another but, sometimes, situation is extremely challenging where a person has to take difficult decisions,” Hussain told reporters after joining the NC.
This is the second major jolt for the PDP president after four party leaders, including former sports minister Imran Reza Ansari, his uncle and former MLAs Abid Ansari and Mohammad Abbas Wani, and MLC Yasir Reshi, rebelled against the party leadership.
Imran and Abid joined the Peoples Conference led by the BJP ally, Sajad Gani Lone, last month, reviving the talk of ‘northern alliance’, while Reshi and Wani are watching the unfurling political developments from the sidelines, though their affiliations are not unknown.
After the rebellion, the PDP president had blamed the BJP-led Centre for coercing one of her MLAs, Aijaz Mir, whose personal security officer deserted with seven AK-47s and joined militants last year, to resign from the PDP and join opposition, or else face arrest.
In following days, former finance minister and the architect of the PDP-BJP alliance, Dr Haseeb Drabu, resigned from the party, increasing the worries of Mehbooba who is clearly struggling to keep her flock together ahead of the state assembly elections.
The party yesterday also removed Mehbooba Iqbal has been removed from the position of general secretary, “These leaders were found to be indulging in anti-party activities and despite warning they didn’t mend their ways,” senior PDP leader A R Veeri said
“What can we do?” a senior PDP leader said, when asked about the churning in the party, “We can only wait and watch. We can’t force people to stay with us. Those who are leaving the PDP for greener pastures will get a taste of their own medicine.”
According to sources, another PDP leader, Saif-ud-Din Bhat, who was allegedly sidelined by the party when it was heading the government with the BJP, is also contemplating to leave the party, “He has met the NC leadership. He may officially join the party,” sources said.
The banner of rebellion in the PDP emerged soon after the BJP pulled out of the coalition government, plunging the state into a political crisis. After the fall of the government, the state was brought under the Governor’s rule.
Muzaffar Hussain Baig, the PDP cofounder, had last month said that he will join the ‘third front’, led by Sajad Gani Lone, but after a meeting with Mehbooba, he reportedly decided against making such a move.
His wife, Safeena Baig, heads the women’s wing of the party.