THE PDP IS IMPLODING
Growing dissent and deserters may spell doom for the party ahead of elections
Mehbooba Mufti’s troubles were only beginning when the BJP pulled the rug from under her government last June. The past seven months have seen unprecedented attrition in the People’s Democratic Party’s ranks, with 13 senior leaders, including seven former MLAs and ministers, quitting the party. Analysts say the PDP, founded by two-time chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 1999, could well implode in the run up to the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections, expected to be held simultaneously.
The latest to quit on January 5, former Chadoora legislator Javid Mustafa Mir, hasn’t yet revealed his plans, though other PDP rebels have headed straight to the National Conference or Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference. Among them are Basharat Bukhari and Peer Mohammad Hussain, two senior partymen, who were personally welcomed into the NC by Farooq Abdullah at his Srinagar residence on December 19.
Hussain, once a trusted aide of the late Mufti Sayeed, fell out with Mehbooba after he was unceremoniously removed as chairperson of the Jammu & Kashmir Waqf Board in 2017. Bukhari, too, was peeved about being divested of important portfolios like law and parliamentary
affairs during Mehbooba’s regime. Hussain claims he was “punished” for warning Mehbooba of coteries.
On January 7, addressing an embarrassingly thin gathering on the third death anniversary of her father in Bijbehara in Anantnag district, a distraught Mehbooba accused the rebels of treachery. “All those raising issues in the party now, went to [the RSS headquarters at] Nagpur and offered to split the PDP… they compromised my position,” she said. Mehbooba was alluding to former finance minister Altaf Bukhari, who allegedly tried to engineer a split in the PDP following Mufti’s death in 2016. Though Bukhari remains in the PDP, his opposition to party leaders Naeem Akhtar and Peerzada Mansoor, close confidants of Mehbooba, is well known. He caused quite a sensation when on December 10 he stormed out of a party
“ALL THOSE RAISING ISSUES IN THE PARTY NOW WENT TO NAGPUR AND OFFERED TO SPLIT THE PDP”
meeting convened to discuss the growing dissidence. Bukhari is preparing to launch his own party, say sources, since Mehbooba is unlikely to oust Akhtar or Mansoor—the only two friendly faces within the PDP besides brother Tassaduq and other family members.
The attrition in the PDP’s ranks has benefitted the PC the most. Influential Shia politicians Imran Ansari and his uncle Abid Ansari have teamed up with Lone and, along with former Tangmarg legislator Abbas Wani, are expected to help the PC win a lot more than its tally of two seats in the last assembly poll.
A senior politician, who has worked with both Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba to build the PDP, describes it as “a loose collective of individuals only there for the spoils of power”. Now that they are no longer in power, he says, “the party’s over for them”.
TROUBLE MOUNTS FOR MEHBOOBA? The former CM addressing a press conference