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Mehbooba Mufti Rejigs PDP to Keep Flock Together, But Some MLAs Warn It May be Too Late

In a major rehaul, Mehbooba relieved her uncles Sartaj Madni and Peerzada Mansoor Hussain and brother Tasaduq Mufti of their responsibilities. Others who were sidelined include party spokesperson Naeem Akhtar.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:August 27, 2018, 6:06 PM IST
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Mehbooba Mufti Rejigs PDP to Keep Flock Together, But Some MLAs Warn It May be Too Late
File photo of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
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New Delhi: Nearly a month after facing rebellion from within her party for her perceived nepotism, Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday announced a major rejig in the PDP. Mehbooba had faced flak from MLCs and MLAs for placing her own relatives in plum positions in the party and in the state whose chief minister she was till recently.

In a major rehaul, Mehbooba relieved her uncles Sartaj Madni and Peerzada Mansoor Hussain and brother Tasaduq Mufti of their responsibilities. Others who were sidelined include party spokesperson Naeem Akhtar.

While there were some murmurs of satisfaction within the lower ranks of the PDP, some party leaders whom News18 spoke to weren’t so upbeat about the change. A PDP MLA from South Kashmir told News18 it was “too late now”.

Sartaj Madni, the vice-president of the party until he resigned on July 23, said the move was aimed at promoting “unity and strength” within the PDP, while party insiders said the ‘abrupt’ decision was an attempt to “unite the party” which is facing a crisis.

When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of the coalition government with the PDP in June, five PDP MLAs — Imran Ansari, Abid Ansari, Javid Baigh, Abbas Wani, Majeed Paddar — and two MLCs — Saif-ud-Din Bhat and Yasir Reshi — criticised Mehbooba’s leadership. The rebel group is reportedly supporting separatist-turned-mainstream politician and BJP ally Sajjad Lone to become the next chief minister of the state in alliance with the BJP.

As part of the rejig, Mehbooba has appointed senior party leader Abdul Rehman Veeri the new vice-president of the party, former minister and businessman Syed Altaf Bukhari as treasurer and reconstituted the affairs committee.

The members of the new committee are Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Muhammad Dillawar Mir, Mehboob Baig, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Nizamudin Bhat, Yashpal Sharma, Choudhary Zulfkar, Syed Asgar Ali, Falail Singh, Ashraf Mir, Haji Anayat Ali, Rafiq Hussain Khan and Qiza Afzal.

Reacting to the development, PDP MLA from south Kashmir’s Kokernag area Abdul Rahim Rather told News18, “There has been no meeting of the legislators on the changes and the decisions taken by the party president.” He added, “The changes were much needed but I fear it is too late.”

Another leader said the party had suffered irreparable damage because of the people Mehbooba had surrounded herself with. “We have been warning her. There were enough complaints against her uncle Madni of misusing his position. There are serious corruption charges against him,” said another leader on the condition of anonymity. “This is show-off and an attempt to unite the party, which is actually facing an existential threat,” said the leader, who is also an incumbent legislator.

He added that Naeem Akhter, who was a minister in the previous government, was never considered an insider by most of the party members. “He was close to Mufti Sayeed. Sayeed promoted Akhter otherwise he has not contributed anything for the party,” said the leader. Akhter was given a ministerial post without contesting elections. The PDP legislator said, “What has happened to the party was brewing for a long time. Mehbooba is trying to consolidate her power, but it is too late.”

MLA Wachi and young PDP politician Aijaz Ahmed Mir termed the move a “normal reshuffle in the party structure”. “These steps were taken after consultations among party leaders and will be beneficial,” he said.

Though Mehbooba is trying hard to keep her flock together, there are enough signs of disunity among her party’s ranks. As a show of strength, the former chief minister took her MLAs and MLCs with her as she flew down to New Delhi to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee last week. However, of the party’s 28 MLAs, only 17 joined her.
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