As three Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MLAs have come out openly against the party president Mehbooba Mufti and described the Mehbooba Mufti’s rule as “family raj”, the split in the PDP seems a reality now. With the State Assembly in suspended animation, apprehensions of the National Conference that the BJP could form the government with a breakaway faction of the PDP looks another reality in restive Jammu and Kashmir.
First to criticise Mehbooba Mufti was Abid Ansari, an MLA from Zadibal constituency of Hazratbal. He was joined by Imran Raza Ansari, former Minister and senior PDP leader.
Imran Ansari on Monday hit out at Mehbooba and accused her of promoting family raj during her Chief Ministership.
“The PDP had become a family thing as it was run by brothers, uncles and aunts,” Ansari said referring to Tasaduq Mufti, brother of Mehbooba, who was a cabinet minister. He also pointed to Sartaj Madni, Mehbooba’s uncle, who was all-powerful vice-president of the party. Farooq Andrabi, another relative of the PDP president, was also a minister in Mehbooba Mufti government though for short period.
As there are speculations that the BJP may make a major political announcement after the Amarnath Yatra completes, the National Conference seeks dissolution of the Assembly to end horse-trading in the state which has the strong anti-defection law.
Ansari said he had told Mehbooba Mufti many a time that these relatives will “make her incompetent”. However, he said, she didn’t listen to him. “I told her that it has become difficult to be in the party. One was feeling suffocated. But she refused to address the concerns, we said our goodbyes to her,” he said, referring to Abid and himself. He said as long as family rule continues in the party there was no point for him to continue in the party. At the same time, he said he was not averse to joining any other party which would end “family rule” and work for the betterment of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ansari said he was ready for elections any time as he was in the assembly. “We have not come from the back door. We have the support of our people. Let there be elections, we are ready,” he said referring to Ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti govt who were not MLAs.
His statement comes days after BJP general secretary Ram Madhav’s visit to the Valley. During his visit, Madhav met the BJP legislators and Sajad Gani Lone, who was BJP ally and was Minister in the PDP-BJP govt on BJP quota. Madhav’s visit is being connected with possible efforts to stitch up a coalition with a breakaway group of PDP, without Mehbooba and her close confidantes.
On June 20 this year Jammu and Kashmir was placed under Governor’s Rule, a day after Mehbooba resigned as chief minister after withdrawal of support by the BJP from the coalition government.
On Sunday Abid Hussain Ansari in his address said he challenged certain decisions that were taken by Mehbooba Mufti before dismissal of her government.
Abid said he was not satisfied with the work or policies that were undertaken during PDP and BJP government.
"Former Roads and Buildings Minister, Naeem Akthar and Political Secretary to the ex-CM, Peer Mansoor Hussain have misguided Mehbooba Mufti with their wrong counsel that resulted in formulating wrong policies and decisions.” Another PDP legislator MLA Tangmarg said he stands with Imran Raza Ansari.
Already the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav has said that the BJP felt that there was less effort by Mehbooba Mufti to lead the government to provide good governance in the State. “That is why we parted ways,” Madhav has said.
The open criticism of Mehbooba by her MLAs has come at a time when Congress party is denying that it is going to form an alliance with the PDP to form a government in the State. Almost all leaders from the Congress have denied that Mehbooba Mufti has met Ghulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi. The state Congress leaders have described such reports as mere rumours.
There are speculations that other PDP MLAs might follow Ansari within. Already, former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu is going gung-ho to defend the GST and praising Narendra Modi government’s economic policies particularly GST. It was Haseeb Drabu, who stitched alliance of the PDP with the BJP after prolonged negotiations with the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav. However, he was replaced early this year as Finance Minister by Mehbooba Mufti after he delivered a keynote address at the Indian Econometric Conference where he was accused by the PDP of saying that Kashmir is more of a social problem than a political issue, the charge Drabu denies.