SRINAGAR: A new political party is likely to be launched soon in Jammu and Kashmir as an “alternative” to conventional regional political organisations such as National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the run-up to the elections of the Union Territory (UT), which the government proposes to hold later this year.
The new political party would comprise mainly ‘disgruntled’ members of PDP, including former ministers and legislators who have quit the party or were thrown out of it for their alleged anti-party activities recently or earlier.
The sources said that these leaders and activists have held a series of meetings in twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu during the past couple of weeks to deliberate over the proposed venture. The group is being headed by former minister Syed Altaf Bukhari, who is known to be very close to the corridors of power in Delhi.
He has been in the forefront of supplementing the government’s covert effort to “encourage” mainstream politicians, including former ministers and lawmakers to team up and initiate political activities is such fashion that would break the political stalemate which persists in J&K since August 5, 2019 when it was stripped of its special status and split up into two UTs by the Centre.
The proposed enterprise is seen by local watchers also as conscious attempt by those at the helm of power to isolate J&K’s impervious mainstream political parties particularly NC and PDP which have, so far, remained steadfast in their political outlook and have ruled out joining any political process unless and until J&K’s statehood and special status are restored.
Bukhari, a business tycoon-turned-politician, was a year ago expelled from PDP for his “anti-party” activities. His fresh effort to turn the tables on the PDP leadership seems to have come off as per his own wish and plan. A fairly large number of his former colleagues in the PDP have joined him and are likely to form the essential ingredient of the new proposed political party.
The PDP, after cancelling Bukhari’s membership in January 2019, accused him of “backstabbing”, “subverting people’s interests” and of “making attempts at breaking the party by hobnobbing with its rivals”. Though he chose to remain discreet and did not react any harshly then, he is now getting back at the PDP and, at the same time, trying to bring to fruition his own political ambitions.
Meanwhile, the PDP appears to be a sinking ship. During past one week, more than a dozen of its leaders and prominent workers were either expelled from the party for going against ‘interests of J&K and party ideology’, or they left it reportedly to join the Bukhari bandwagon. More are planning to walk out of it, the sources said.
The PDP has been facing hard and turbulent times since losing power. Several prominent faces, including former ministers and legislators quit the party immediately after the BJP pulled out of the coalition government headed by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti in June 2018.
While some observers had likened it to ‘rats are first to leave a sinking ship’, Mufti had shrugged the ‘exodus’ off by saying, “This is election time (when) people do go and come (in parties)”. Those elections were never held, and on August 5, 2019 J&K was bifurcated into two UTs- Ladakh and J&K. Girish Chandra Murmu, the Lieutenant Governor of J&K, recently gave enough hints of the Assembly polls in the UT being held soon.
He said, “Election will come. It is a Union Territory with a legislature. It will not continue like this (under Centre’s rule).”
The PDP is faced with fresh exodus. Even party’s patron and former deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh has openly criticised Mufti, who is under preventive detention since August 5, over her certain political annotations and actions both as party president and Chief Minister, indicating his inclination....