PDP heads for vertical split in J&K

PDP heads for vertical split in J&K

Political uncertainty continues in J&K after the break-up of the PDP-BJP

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI file photo

As political uncertainty continues to loom large in Jammu and Kashmir more than two weeks after the break-up of the PDP-BJP coalition government, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is heading towards a vertical split.

At least three PDP MLAs have openly revolted against party president Mehbooba and more are expected to join the group in coming days. Led by powerful Shia leader and former minister Imran Raza Ansari, the rebel group is gaining confidence with each passing day. Ansari is likely to wrest at least one-third of the party MLA’s to his side.

“Trust me there is a tsunami coming on the political landscape of Kashmir,” assertive Ansari told reporters.

Scion of an influential Shia family, who is also a powerful businessman, Ansari said he was not the “only one”, but the thought of leaving the PDP is on the minds of many MLAs treated "badly" by the party. “She (Mehbooba) was already warned of that.”

In the 87-member J&K Assembly, PDP has 28 MLAs while its erstwhile alliance partner BJP has 25. National Conference with 15 members and Congress with 12 MLAs are at third and fourth place. Any party or an alliance requires 44 MLAs to form the government.

Though anger against Mehbooba Mufti was brewing in the party for several months, it is the first time a PDP leader has dared to call her government a family "raj".  Political analysts believe Ansari is a real threat to Mehbooba given his clout and his reach within the party and in other parties. 

Mehbooba ouster? 

A senior PDP leader, while acknowledging that Mehbooba was feeling the heat in the backdrop of Ansari’s revolt said, “We fear that BJP government at the Centre might break the PDP and oust Mehboobaji as president. As speaker of the Assembly belongs to the BJP, it won’t be a difficult task for them if they can take 14 or 15 of our MLAs into confidence.”

“Ansari and Peoples Conference (PC) leader Sajjad Lone are working overtime to bring disgruntled MLAs of PDP together. This will be a real test for Mehbooba’s leadership skills and how she keeps her flock together,” he said. 

Governor's rule was imposed on the state on June 20, a day after the collapse of the PDP-BJP alliance. With the possibility of fresh elections appearing remote due to the rising graph of militancy, political observers believe that the possibility of a government formation of unexpected combinations is only after the annual Amarnath yatra ends in late August.

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