August 2018 News

PDP Faces Rebellion As 11 MLAs 'refuse' To Go For Vajpayee Funeral

18 August 2018
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Samaan Lateef

Srinagar: The PDP received a major setback after 11 of its MLAs refused to join their party president Mehbooba Mufti in attending the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. As a show of strength, Mehbooba, on Friday, took her MLAs and MLCs to New Delhi to pay tributes to Vajpayee. Out of 28 MLAs of the PDP, only 17 joined her. However, the rebel group of the PDP says five in the Mehbooba's entourage were their members, while 11 refused to join it. The rebel group of the PDP held a late-night meeting on Thursday at a former minister's house in the high-security Tulsi Bagh locality of Srinagar. During the meeting, a senior leader in the rebel group said it was decided to send five of its members to attend Vajpayee's condolence meeting to keep an eye on the activities of the PDP led by Mehbooba. 'Mehbooba scored a self-goal by making it public that her support in the party has dwindled. Our five members were part of the condolence meeting to keep an eye on her activities in New Delhi,' a PDP rebel leader said. Sources said three former ministers switched off their phones after they received calls from Mehbooba to attend the condolence meeting in New Delhi. 'It was a clear message to Mehbooba that we won't toe the line of dynasty politics. We had enough of her,' said a former PDP minister, who has joined the rebel group. Soon after the BJP pulled out from 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 - openly disapproved of Mehbooba's leadership. The PDP rebel group is backing Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone, who is an ally of the BJP, to be the next chief minister of J&K in alliance with the saffron party. Lone, who has been a cabinet minister from the BJP quota during the PDP-BJP government, is believed to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM, during his visit to Kashmir in May, had walked to Lone in a hotel lounge and asked him not to hide but lead from the front. The Lone-led government will be seen as an extension of BJP's Central Government to J&K. While the PDP legislators have shown open defiance against the party and NC leader Omar Abdullah has been repeatedly sought dissolution of the Legislative Assembly to keep his flock together, Lone is holding all cards close to his chest and not giving a whiff to the parties about his next move. Lone is discreet and both the parties are waiting for his next move.