In yet another major setback to former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, the co-founder of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Muzaffar Hussain Baig has quit the party after being sidelined by her while taking decision on vital political issues.
It is learnt that Baig resigned from the party due to disagreement over seat-sharing for the forthcoming District Development Council (DDC) elections.
Baig reportedly informed Mehbooba on Saturday about his decision of quitting the party with which he was associated since its inception in 1998 by Mehbooba’s father Mufti Sayeed.
Baig was reportedly upset over the seat distribution, especially in north Kashmir, by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of mainstream political parties, including the National Conference (NC), PDP, People’s Conference, CPI(M) and Awami National Conference. The Congress has also joined the PAGD.
The PAGD on Thursday announced the seat-sharing list for the first of the 8-phase phase polls. The NC was given majority of 21 of the 27 seats in the Kashmir Valley, whereas the PDP would contest four seats. Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference (PC) has been assigned two seats for the first phase.
This is not the first time that Baig has distanced himself from the PDP. He was sometime ago made patron of the party when indications came that he might quit.
However, the PDP leadership was irked when Baig in an interview after abrogation of the special status of J&K said that the “Article 370 was hollow and provocative speeches of Mehbooba and other mainstream leaders had prompted centre to abrogate J&K’s special status and downgrade the state into two UTs”.
Earlier this year, Baig was conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Modi government, which was also an issue of contention with senior PDP leaders.
Meanwhile, reacting to Baig’s resignation, Mehbooba tweeted; “PAGD was formed solely to safeguard the identity of people of J&K thats been under constant attack since Aug 2019. To assume it was created for petty electoral gains or to further party interests is erroneous. We have a bigger cause to fight for than bicker over DDC elections”.
The DDC elections for 20 districts of J&K will begin on 28 November when polling for the first phase will be held.
Mehbooba was witnessing several high-profile desertions from the PDP. A former MP, TS Bajwa and a senior party functionary Ved Mahajan, who had remained loyal to Mufti Sayeed even when he was in the Congress, were among three leaders who resigned from PDP and joined the Congress.
They said they were feeling suffocated due to Mehbooba’s “undesirable utterances especially which hurt patriotic sentiments”.
J&K Congress chief, GA Mir, said on Sunday that the Alliance of J&K NC, Congress, PDP and other parties will jointly contest DDC polls. We will try to defeat those who were forcefully implementing policies which are not in favour of people of J&K.