National Conference ropes in senior PDP leaders, intensifying J&K political battle
The PDP, which has been on the back foot ever since its alliance with the BJP ended in June, continued to lose its senior party leaders as two more, including former minister Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari, joined the National Conference Wednesday.
Bukhari, whose has been popular among the people as a radio journalist, along with former minister Peer Mohammad Hussain, formally joined the PDP's arch rival National Conference, in presence of party president and Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah and former chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Welcoming the two, Farooq Abdullah expressed hope that their inclusion will help salvage people from the "current tumultuous times". "We have to show steadfastness and maintain unity among us. We have to give a befitting reply to those forces which are inimical to the special status of the state," he said while welcoming the new members.
Besides these two, senior PDP leader and former minister Imran Ansari parted ways with the party by openly supporting Sajjad Lone's People's Conference. Earlier this month, former state finance minister Haseeb Drabu, who was instrumental in stitching an alliance with the BJP, had also announced his resignation from the party but kept suspense about his future course of action.
Both Bukhari and Hussain were expelled by the PDP on Tuesday on the recommendation of a disciplinary committee headed by party vice-president Abdul Rehman Veeri. Bukhari, a two-time MLA from Sangrama in north Kashmir, said he would work for the betterment of the party. He is the elder brother of slain journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead along with two security officers by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists in June this year.
Asked about the reasons for leaving the PDP, Bukhari said, "When opinions do not match with the party leadership, it's high time to call it quits. I thought its better to show some respect to myself and walk away and let her (Mehbooba) do whatever she wants to do on the advice of her coterie".
"I have been man on the ground and associated with the party for last 16 years. Taking an opinion from persons who have never contested or tasted the electoral battle will not benefit me...So, therefore, I decided to quit," he said.
Known for his baritone voice, Bukhari hosted two shows 'Shairbeen' and 'Rai-Trai' (Vox populi) on Radio Kashmir in which he highlighted day-to-day problems faced by the people. The programme had gained a lot of popularity.
He was the law minister in the PDP-BJP coalition, headed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. He was made the revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister when the government was led by Mehbooba Mufti.
Hussain, a former MLA from Shangus constituency, was a minister during the PDP-Congress government in 2002. He did not contest elections after 2002 and was appointed as the vice-chairman of the Waqf Board by the PDP-BJP government.
(With inputs from agencies.)