Asem Mohiuddin Lone
Sajad Gani Lone last week in a press conference said that those who cannot inspire its own MLA’s and workers shall not blame others for breaking their parties. Lone a chairman of his Peoples Conference which is gradually emerging as third political force in state was responding to the queries that he was attempting to break the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and secure the support of its MLA’s to form the government with the support of BJP in state.
The PC chairman however reiterated that he had support of the BJP and some 18 MLA’s mostly from the PDP and after that he staked the claim to form the government alongside the PDP which claimed the support of National Conference and Congress though the governor dissolved the Assembly.
“I had not lost my mind. I had a support to form the government if given a chance. I was having numbers though I respect the decision of governor of dissolving the Assembly” he told the media.
Lone was flanked by Imran Raza Ansari who on the same day announced his decision to join the Lone’s PC.
While his entry is a shot in arm to the Lone due to Ansari’s considerable influence in the Shia community his exit from the PDP may spell a disaster for its minority Shia vote in many constituencies of north Kashmir.
Imran is representing the Pattan constituency of Baramulla district and has been one among the senior cabinet ministers in the PDP-BJP government.
However when the PDP distributed the portfolios Imran was the last minister who assumed the charge as Youth Sports and Services following his reservations with the portfolio within the party.
While the differences brewed up from the same day the situation continue to aggravate with passing times which eventually led to his exit from the party. Imran within the PDP was also believed to be highly influential and enjoys the support of his uncle who is an MLA from Shia dominating Zadibal constituency.
The constituencies include Baramulla, Gulmarg, Pattan Zadibal in Srinagar and some pockets in Budgam.
Given to his contribution to the poll prospectus of PDP the Ansari’s were aiming to expand its clout within the party circles and stay more meaningful and significant as party leaders.
The undue importance by the party higher ups to some people and bringing the Mufti clan more close to the decision making circles annoyed the Ansaris who ultimately chose to rebel.
This was more vindicated by none other than the senior party leader Muzaffer Husain Baig in a presser on last week.
Baig accused the party of shunting him out from the party affairs after convincing him to contest for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 along with Tariq Hamid Karra.
He said that after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2016 January his party never involved him in any decision making process, therefore, he may consider decision of joining the third front led by Sajad Lone.
Tariq Karra had already left the party and joined the Congress. Baig even said that Sajad is like his son and the PC is like his home for which he has also drafted the manifesto.
While an element of rebellion in the PDP seems still intact and many of its senior leaders contemplating to join the third front is posing a serious question over the party leadership.
After the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayed his daughter and party president Mehbooba Mufti is struggling to keep the flock together. Majority of her party leaders have complaints with her unwarranted behaviour and expanding the family rule.
“The party has just left the decision making process to its fewer leaders who never faced the tests on ground. Besides those who call shots are her relatives,” said one of the MLA’s wishing to be anonymous.
He said that owing to such atmosphere in the party the outsiders feel suffocated and are barred to place their opinions and suggestions though during elections whole pressure is exerted on them.
“Once the elections are over all ground leaders turn pariah to the party and family members, relatives come in.”
While the Ansari seems the beginning of rebellion in the party it is expected more leaders will follow the path in coming times. PDP is facing an existential threat and there seems no relief for the party in coming times.
Even the upcoming elections may not favour the party too due to its poor performance in previous regime.
So for Mehbooba it is a challenge now to remain as acceptable party leader and the Chief Minister candidate in the elections likely to be held next year.
At the same time it is also to be seen how well Mehbooba will manage the crisis and set her house in order.