Ships, as is said, don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. When you let what happens around you get inside you, it will definitely weigh you down. That is what happened with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP made entry into Kashmir politics with a huge bang but is vanishing with a whimper. Its leaders are leaving the party like the rats running away from a sinking ship. Many of its former legislators and ministers have resigned or maintained distance from party ever since Mahbooba 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—are likely to join the National Conference. Mahbooba 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.
Several others leaders are there who too would like to leave the party but have little options before them. Their association with the party is only a compulsion. They are waiting for the opportunity. And if today Mahbooba Mufti feels herself 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 Gujjars 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 even small things. That one could see during his three year 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). PDP overburdened itself with a serious political agenda but it was too huge to be engaged in by smaller characters. Feeding people with false expectations are bound to boomerang. Nobody had expected PDP to deliver on the issue of Kashmir. People knew it for a fact that Kashmir is too a big issue to be resolved by small regional actors. They don’t even look towards separatist leaders for that. That had made it all the more necessary for the PDP to take a realistic look of the political scenario of Kashmir and formalize and strategize its priorities in tune with those political realities. Emotional politics or sloganeering has no takers now. National Conference tried to in bring in that element during last election campaign but failed to impress the electorate.
PDP’s main strength was good governance that people saw between 2002 and 05. Of the four chief ministers, the people of the state saw since 1996, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was seen as the best who could deliver as the head of the state. He managed and controlled things even with aggressive BJP. Mahbooba Mufti, who took over the reins of the party and government after him, did not appear in a pale shadow of her father. The present disintegration of the PDP is its natural corollary. However, there is nothing permanent in politics. Leaders do rise and fall, and one cannot be written off forever in politics.