Days after it lost power in J&K, cracks are beginning to appear in the PDP with a former minister speaking out against Mehbooba Mufti’s leadership, and claiming that several MLAs and PDP stalwarts too were unhappy with the state of affairs in the party.
Shia leader Imran Raza Ansari, who was a PDP minister in the alliance government with the BJP that collapsed last month, told The Indian Express: “The party has been hijacked by vested interests. She (Mehbooba) chose her cronies over elected members to run the party and the government.’’
The party leadership, he said, “seems to be in a state of shock and paralysis and they do not know what to do… People close to Mehbooba Mufti have not allowed her to function. She has allowed herself to be swayed by four or five people around her, against her better judgment”.
His remarks came a day after his uncle Abid Hussain Ansari, also a PDP legislator and a Shia leader representing Zadibal in Srinagar, slammed Mehbooba for running the party like a “family fiefdom” and for appointing her brother Tassaduq Mufti as a minister.
Imran Raza Ansari said that five days before the government fell, PDP MLAs had tried to convey their resentment to Mehbooba Mufti but “instead of being taken seriously, they were shouted at”. He said for over a year, “I had been telling her that this government was not functioning properly”.
Ansari, who represents Pattan, said the PDP had become a family party being run by “uncles, aunts, brothers and other family members” and no longer bore any resemblance to the party of the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. “MLAs want elections but the party has taken the position that the Assembly will stay under suspended animation, and this is on the suggestion of people who do not have a single vote to their name,” he said.
“I haven’t resigned yet but I have distanced myself from the leadership of the party. We (he and uncle Abid Ansari) will not contest elections with the PDP. The main slogan of the PDP was to remove family raj… that was our goal as a party. The PDP has become a family party where family members have been running the show,’’ he said.
“The coalition failed not because of BJP..BJP had given full support to our government. The coalition government failed because of our own incompetence. It was the incompetence of the CM. She ran the government on the advice of cronies and vested interests who had been rejected by the people. She turned everything into a family affair… She was dismantling whatever Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had created. He wouldn’t let Sartaj Madni (Mehbooba’s maternal uncle) come close to him, but Madni was running the show in our government,” Ansari said.
Ansari said PDP’s Tangmarg MLA Abbas Wani too supported his views. “I saw his comments. He agrees with me. More will follow,’’ he said.
Reached for comment, Sartaj Madni, the PDP vice-president, said: “We are in a democratic set-up, everyone is allowed to have and hold their opinion. We will try to reach out to Ansari Sahab, he is one of us. The party is intact and everyone is together.” He dismissed reports of PDP holding talks with the Congress leadership in Delhi on government formation in J&K as “a rumour.”
Ansari is an influential leader of the Shias who have a sizeable vote share in at least four constituencies — his home constituency Pattan, uncle Abid Ansari’s constituency Zadibal, and Hajin and Tangmarg. The Ansaris have been with the Congress and NC earlier.
The Ansaris are very close to People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone and they have been working on a “northern alliance” — a third front concentrated in north Kashmir where Lone took two constituencies in Kupwara district.— (With ENS in New Delhi)