The Mehbooba Mufti-led People’s Democratic Party on Saturday expelled senior party leader Altaf Bukhari, alleging that he “inspired and led dissent in the party at its most crucial stage”, which resulted in “serious damage to our efforts at implementing the agenda of Alliance of our coalition government”.
Bukhari, who served as finance minister in the state before the PDP-BJP coalition government fell in June 2018, represents the Amira Kadal constituency in Srinagar and has also served as education minister in the Mufti cabinet.
Accusing him of anti-party activities, the PDP said in a statement that the party has been watching his activities with concern for quite some time, and, “Ever since the passing away of our founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he has been perusing his personal political ambition at the cost of the party and state interest. While the party leadership was engaged in negotiations with its partner and the GOI insisting on implementing some agreed points before forming the new government, the dissension weakened its bargaining position, forcing subsequent events against its will.”
The party also said, “In spite of this obvious backstabbing and subversion of people’s interest, the party leadership believed in subsequent explanations and assurances of Mr Bukhari and reposed complete trust in him by re-inducting him in cabinet.”
Reacting to the party’s move, Bukhari said, “While I am happy over the party’s decision, the reasons given for my expulsion are debatable.” Wishing PDP the best, he added, “I also got a chance to witness the downfall of so-called popular leaders and the rise of those who were hitherto unknown in the arena of politics. I am also equally happy for this decision of the party as my conscience is clean and I never compromised on my principles.”
In November last year, before Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state Assembly, Bukhari led PDP’s efforts to bring together a coalition with the National Conference and Congress to stake claim to form the government. While Bukhari became the emissary to bring together the two regional rivals, his name was proposed as the chief ministerial candidate for the PDP-NC-Congress coalition.
However, sources told The Indian Express that Bukhari was upset with the PDP’s decision not to challenge the Governor’s move to dissolve the Assembly in court, and entered negotiations with the NC to shift his allegiance.
The PDP claimed that “the leadership waited in the hope of Mr Bukhari rejecting these reports to clear the air”.