Srinagar: Simmering discontent in Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) over its allying with what is seen by many as being anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmiri BJP has escalated into a virtual rebellion within the party.
Mufti has convened a meeting of the PDP’s legislature party, which is expected to elect her as its leader on Thursday in the run-up to government formation by the alliance partners.
As she would be discussing ‘threadbare’ the outcome of her latest round of talks with the BJP leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi earlier this week, apart from devising strategy for government formation, she has invited all senior functionaries of the party including MPs and members of its extended core group to attend the crucial meet.
But Tariq Hameed Karra, PDP’s Lok Sabha member from Srinagar and the symbol of resentment against Mufti’s penchant for the BJP is reported to have expressed his inability to attend the meeting. If Mufti goes ahead with cobbling up a government with ideologically-divergent BJP, which from all available indications is inevitable, Karra may prefer to quit the party than becoming part of dispensation which he has publicly termed as ‘disaster’ in the past.
Sources close to Karra revealed that the leader was expecting candid support from like-minded party men including a few legislators.
Karra, the alienated founding member of the PDP, has repeatedly said that its tie-up with the BJP only proved detrimental to PDP’s interests and halted its growth, particularly in Kashmir Valley, and that the BJP has not respected the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’, the common minimum programme reached between the two sides for the government formation last year.
He has also publicly termed the PDP-BJP coalition as a “failed experiment”. His argument has been that the core issues which have been the essence of the PDP’s existence like return of the power projects within the State being run by the NHPC, revocation of contentious APSPA and, above all, the self-rule agenda have been ignored by the party leadership.
He has openly asked the party leadership to snap its ties with BJP if they ‘really want to protect the people of Kashmir’. He has chose to stay away from PDP’s crucial meetings held in recent past. Defending his decision not to involve himself with party’s pursuits, Karra said recently that his stand is clear that until the PDP revisits its alliance with BJP, he would not attend any party meetings.
At a one-on-one meeting he had with Mufti a couple of weeks after her father and former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, passed away in Delhi, he had reportedly made a passionate appeal to PDP president not to repeat the “mistake” by seeking to form the government with the saffron party again.
“As his pleas have apparently fallen on deaf ears, it is about to give way to emergence of splinter group of the PDP,” the sources said adding that if required, Karra may not hesitate to quit the party.
Some party leaders loyal to Mufti are aware of it and are trying to persuade Karra not to take his disillusionment that far.
Following Mufti’s death, his daughter and ‘natural successor’ Mufti was reluctant to form the new government with alliance partner BJP and had publicly asked for J&K-specific Confidence-Building-Measures (CBMs) towards creating congenial atmosphere for stepping into her father’s shows.
Last week, her meeting with BJP president Amit Shah ended in a fiasco as the two sides failed to find a common ground on various issues. Shah had told her a government can’t be formed on the basis of conditions. After that, both sides admitted that efforts to revive the coalition had hit a roadblock.
However, a joint effort put in by PDP and BJP negotiators paved the way for a broader reconciliation meeting between Mufti and Shah on Tuesday.
She was invited later by the Prime Minister for a one-on-one meeting seemingly ending the deadlock over government formation. Mufti described her 30-minute-long meeting with Modi as ‘very positive’ and ‘good’ in addressing issues pertaining to the people of the State.
But the BJP on Wednesday chose to charm its core constituency both within and outside Jammu and Kashmir but, put Mufti and the PDP into an uncomfortable situation when its national general secretary, Ram Madhav, said that the saffron party has not accepted any new conditions from its alliance partner.
He, once again, threw the ball in Mufti's court, saying her party has to make the next move for government formation in the State. He said, "We’ve not accepted any new condition from the PDP."
This will only empower those within PDP whoa re against Mufti’s renewed attraction to the saffron party. On the other hand, the BJP is also facing resentment in Jammu from a section of the party rank that sees in the latest bonhomie bartering national interest “just for the sake of a few loaves and fishes of office”.