As the voices of dissent within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) grow louder, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday held talks with party legislators for the first time since the rebellion.
While the party is silent on Mehbooba’s meetings Sunday, sources said that at least 20 legislators met the party president at her residence in Srinagar and assured her support.
None of the rebel legislators met her on Sunday. However, sources said that three rebel legislators — Abbas Wani, Javed Ahmad Beig and Abdul Majeed Padder — have a meeting scheduled with Mufti on Monday.
“The consultations were obviously about the new political situation that has emerged within the party,” a senior PDP leader told The Indian Express. “A wide range of issues were discussed during the meetings and the legislators assured her (Mufti) of their support”.
Sources in PDP said that the PDP chief held separate meetings with all the legislators. “These were one-on-one meetings between Mehboobaji and the legislators,” said a party insider.
A legislator from south Kashmir, who met Mufti, said that all the party legislators who met her assured her support. “In fact, we told her that we will hand over our resignations (from Assembly) to you, but she refused,” he said. “She did not agree to our suggestion that the legislators would hold a press conference to show their support to her”.
“The consultations will continue on Monday as well. We are hopeful that some of them (rebel legislators) will come and meet the party chief,” said another party leader. “There are some misgivings. We are hopeful that they (rebels) would put their grievances before her and all issues can be addressed mutually”.
Since the BJP withdrew from the alliance with the PDP, several party legislators have openly rebelled against the party chief, fuelling speculation of a possible new alignment for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.
The first to speak out against the party leadership was PDP’s Zadibal legislator Abid Ansari. Ansari’s nephew Imran Ansari, a prominent Shia cleric and minister in Mufti-led government, concurred with his uncle’s views and targeted Mufti.
While praising the BJP, Imran Ansari blamed the PDP for the break-up of the coalition, leading to speculation that he may lead the rebel group to ally with BJP.
Soon after the outburst by Imran Ansari, two more PDP legislators — Abbas Wani from Tangmarg constituency and Abdul Majeed Padder from Noorabad Assembly segment — threw their support behind Ansari.
Sources said that the Ansaris could also meet Mufti on Sunday evening or Monday morning.
Two senior party leaders and former ministers Haseeb Drabu and Abdul Haq Khan have already been sulking after they were shown the door by then CM Mufti and removed from Finance and Rural Development ministries.