Another jolt to PDP, two leaders quit to join rival NC

Basharat Bukhari and Peer Muhammad Hussain joined National Conference in the presence of NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah. (DH Photo)

In yet another jolt to the beleaguered People's Democratic Party (PDP), two of its senior leaders and former ministers joined rival National Conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. 

Basharat Bukhari and Peer Muhammad Hussain, both former legislators joined the NC in the presence of its president and MP Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah. While Bukhari was a cabinet minister in the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government, Hussain was chairman of the Wakf Board.
On Tuesday evening, after the reports emerged that the duo would join the NC, the PDP in swift action expelled them for ‘anti-party activities’. Mehbooba Mufti has been struggling to retain her flock since the BJP withdrew its support to the PDP on June 19. Several senior leaders, including former finance minister Haseeb Drabu, have deserted the party after governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the Assembly last month.
After joining the NC, Bukhari, the elder brother of slain journalist Shujaat Bukhari, said he didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mehbooba that is “why he left the party.”
“I firmly believe that 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? So, I don’t want to be disrespectful with her.  As a mark of respect, I left the party,” he told reporters. 
Hussain, when asked why he left the PDP, said that it was very difficult to leave the party and join another, but he had no other option as the situation had become extreme. “It is very difficult to leave one party and join another, but when the situation becomes extremely compulsive where a person has to take some difficult decisions,” Hussain told reporters.
Mehbooba’s problems were compounded immediately after the death of her father in January 2016. For almost four months, she remained indecisive whether to continue the alliance with the right-wing BJP or not.  But the fear that the BJP could encourage certain legislators to mount a coup against her forced the PDP chief to take over as Chief Minister in April 2016.
But the internal bickering within the PDP continued with senior leaders at loggerheads with one another, while others were peeved at being stripped off cabinet berths. Drabu, who had stitched the alliance between the PDP and the BJP in 2015 when the party was led by late Mufti was sacked by Mehbooba as finance minister in March.
There are reports that more senior leaders are in the process of leaving the PDP in the coming days and weeks ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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