PDP minister back, crisis far from over

Jammu: Although one of the two PDP ministers who quit has rejoined office and the other has promised to do so soon, the crisis persists in Jammu and Kashmir’s main ruling party.

Basharat Bukhari, who submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti immediately after a portfolio reshuffle, joined back office as the Horticulture Minister on Tuesday.

Imran Raza Ansari, who too resigned after apparently being irked over not getting a better portfolio, has left for Iran on a personal visit.

Peoples Democratic Party sources said Imran Ansari has promised to assume office on his return.

Both the disgruntled ministers met Mehbooba Mufti who asked them to withdraw their resignation before she could address their concerns, informed sources said.

Bukhari did not deny that portfolio allocation was one reason for his resignation.

“If I said portfolio allocation had nothing to do with my resignation, I would be lying. I have been elected by the people and I am answerable to them. That is why I had to make my stand clear,” Bukhari told the media.

“I have written to Mehboobaji and she has promised my concerns will be addressed. Hope that happens,” he said while confirming that he has taken up his new assignment in the reshuffled ministry.

Imran Ansari is silent over the reasons for his resignation.

But a legislator from Srinagar’s Zadibal constituency, Abid Ansari, has launched a frontal attack on Roads and Buildings Minister Naeem Akhtar and another senior party leader, Peerzada Mansoor Hussain.

If the party gets decimated in by-elections to the Lok Sabha due by March, Naeem Akhtar and Peerzada Manzoor would be responsible, Abid Ansari said.

Srinagar PDP MP Tariq Hameed Karra resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha after joining the Congress. Mehbooba Mufti’s Lok Sabha seat, Anantnag, is also vacant.

Abid Ansari’s warning came a day after another PDP MLA, Abdul Majid Paddar, said that his voters felt let down that he had not got a ministerial berth.

At least five PDP legislators, including the two disgruntled ministers, are now seen as dissidents in the PDP, which has 28 members in the 87-member assembly.

Sources close to Mehbooba Mufti said she can’t accommodate every “so-called dissident” by giving a ministerial berth given the compulsions of the coalition government she runs with the BJP.

Many feel that the dissidents might not be able to rock the PDP boat so strongly that it capsizes.

This is not disputed even by Mufti’s arch rival and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

In a tweet that followed the resignation of the two PDP ministers, Omar Abdullah said: “As long as Mufti had the blessings of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, her government would survive.”

Yet, the immediate challenge before the PDP and its President Mehbooba Mufti is to win the Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats.

PDP’s political standing in both Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha constituencies took a serious beating because of the over five-month-long unrest last year in which 94 people were killed.

The party is engaged in a hectic exercise to regain its lost ground.

Dissidents washing their dirty linen in public is bad news for all parties. It is much more so for the PDP that had emerged as an alternative to the National Conference in the violence-torn Kashmir Valley.