On the fourth death anniversary of its founder chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Peoples’ Democratic Party has tried to reassert its position in the state politics. Addressing a handful of party leaders and workers at the grave of Sayeed in Bijbihara, the party president and daughter of Sayeed, Mehbooba Mufti made some candid admissions of her mistakes during her government. She apologized for her “milk and toffee” jibe on the killing of youth by government forces and called it a desperate mother’s “painful” cry. “I am concerned like a mother about the young people who are getting killed. Was it not my right to make such remarks? I saved south Kashmir youth from the task force and the army. If any one feels bad, I apologise for that,” she said. Mehbooba also apologized for visiting ‘militant families’ and said that she won’t anymore visit them if people got hurt. What, however, caught the imagination the most was her dig at her party colleagues who deserted the PDP to join other parties. She called them “garbage” and appealed youth and educated people to join her party as it was ‘clean’ now.
PDP has been stung by the desert bug. Many of its former legislators and ministers have resigned or maintained distance from party ever since Mehbooba Mufti was dislodged from power in June. Some of them have joined the rival parties while many others too are weighing the options of leaving the party and joining others. Two of its senior leader and former ministers—Basharat Bukhari and Peer Hussain—have likely to join the National Conference. Some other leaders besides Ansaris have joined Sajjad Lone’s Peoples Conference. Former finance minister Haseeb Drabu too has resigned from the party but he has chosen stay away of from politics so far. PDP’s Jammu face and former bureaucrat Bashir Ahmad Runyal too has resigned from the party. He is contesting the election as independent of any party.
The latest to leave the party is former minister and three-time MLA Javed Mustafa Mir. Some more former MLAs and minister are too reportedly waiting for the opportunities and working out deals to leave the PDP. Mehbooba Mufti’s brother Tassaduq Mufti—the MLC and former minister—has reportedly left politics and joined back his previous profession in Mumbai. He was a cinematographer and film director before his brief foray in politics. And if today Mehbooba Mufti feels lonely, she has a reason. She, of course, has succeeded in retaining Muzaffar Hussain Baig by appointing him as party patron. But for all those who know Kashmir and its political psyche, he is not more than an individual. He must have some support in his home constituency of Baramullah but he lacks appeal outside Baramullah. Disintegration of PDP had, in fact, begun the very day when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed breathed his last. It goes without saying that PDP was, in essence, an alliance of individual.
Most of its leaders were one constituency leaders. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, for his experience and intelligence, was the only biding factor among them. He was an astute schemer who had all the ability to make most out of little. That one could see during his stint as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Instead of indulging in populist politics and slogan shouting, Mufti focused on genuine concerns of people in their daily life. That had made Mufti the party’s Unique Selling Point (USP).
The present disintegration of the PDP is its natural corollary. However, there is nothing permanent in politics. Leaders do rise and fall but in politics one cannot be written off forever. And Mehbooba Mufti knows it well. It is perhaps for this fact that she is trying to reassert her position. Though at street level the effect of her reassertion is yet to be determined but the way the archrival National Conference leadership is feeling the hurt, Mehbooba Mufti has all the reason to go whole hog.