In a major setback to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its veteran leader and parliamentarian Muzaffar Hussain Baig threw his weight behind Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone and said he will “seriously consider joining” the third front.
Sources said Baig’s move is also meant to pre-empt moves afoot in the PDP, NC and the Congress to come together and stake claim to form the government in the state which is under Governor’s Rule since the BJP-PDP alliance came unstuck.
“There is a possibility of a third front, people are looking for change,” Baig said. “If it emerges, I will seriously consider joining it”.
Calling Sajad Lone his son and his party a home, Baig said: “I was a friend of his (Sajad Lone’s) father Abdul Gani Lone (who was assassinated by Pak-backed militants in 2002). I have also prepared the constitution of Peoples Conference.”
Lone welcomed his statement: “I am humbled…A person of his stature, experience and intellect can be the defining
attribute of the emerging third party. I remember him as my favourite uncle during my childhood. I was his pampered brat.”
Baig’s backing will bolster the efforts of Sajad Lone to create a third front in the Valley together with Shia leader and PDP legislator Imran Ansari. A trusted ally of BJP, Lone is already in consultation with several political leaders especially those from north Kashmir to create a political front that will take on National Conference and PDP in the Valley.
Baig said he is disillusioned with PDP that he founded together with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed but said it would not be an easy decision to leave the party. “I have not made up my mind. You make a party and then resign from it. It is very hard decision,” he said. “I will have to think about it before I take the decision”.
He, however, made no secret of his differences with the party. “I am hurt and disillusioned — the way matters were handled by PDP, especially the failure of the alliance (with the BJP) because of lack of cohesiveness of two parties…The ultimate mistake was copying National Conference in respect of boycotting the local body elections”. He said he was not consulted by the party Chief Mehbooba Mufti before taking a decision on boycotting the municipal and panchayat polls when he was just a “phone call away”.
Baig questioned the logic behind PDP’s decision to stay away from the elections. “The stated reason was that the Government of India should clarify its stand on Article 35-A which is sub judice. The logic is flawed,” he said. “The issue of Article 35-A is not to be decided by politicians or by the Government. It is to be decided by the highest court of the land which is not afraid of taking bold decisions. In the temple case (Sabarimala), look how boldly the SC has given its verdict. The logic is also flawed because these cases take five years like the (Ayodhya) case. Will NC, which was blindly followed by PDP, boycott even the Assembly polls?”