Peoples Democratic Party co-founder and senior leader MuzaffarHussainBaig said on Tuesday he was considering quitting the party and joining the “third front” led by Sajad Lone if it takes a shape in coming days. Addressing a press conference at his Srinagar residence, Baig said: “For me, Peoples Conference is like my home and Sajad Lone is like my son. If he is interested, there is a talk of third front, it should emerge and be encouraged.”
“If it (third front) emerges, I will seriously consider joining it,” he said.
Baig, whose relation with the PDP leadership plummeted when he was sidelined after the PDP-BJP alliance took shape in 2015, recalled his early association with the Peoples Conference.
“I contested election there (in PC) on the basis of which it was recognised as a political party. There (in PC) I also drafted its constitution. I was a friend of his (Sajad’s) father,” said Baig.
To a question, Baig, the member parliament from northern Kashmir, said his next move would depend on reaction to his statements from the PDP leadership.
“I will decide (on quitting PDP) after seeing the response from the party,” he said.
Baig’s ‘quitting the party’ remark is yet another jolt to the PDP which has been hit by a rebellion. While six legislators from the party openly rebelled against its leadership earlier this year, two of them returned to the fold later.
Baig’s statement comes at a time when Lone-led third front, reportedly backed by the BharatiyaJanata Party and rebel PDP members, is eyeing to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir.
Though Baig, a former deputy chief minister, said he hasn’t been contacted by BJP on formation of the third front or the government, he revealed that there were “people from within PDP” who would “like to see a political government in J&K” and “there were people from different parties who were looking for a change.”
But he hurried to add that he hasn’t made up his mind to resign as of now.
“You make a party and then you resign from it. It is a hard decision. But I am speaking my mind that I am hurt and disillusioned by the way the matters were handled by the PDP, especially the failure of PDP-BJP alliance, lack of cohesiveness among them, non-deliverance on the ground and ultimate mistake by PDP to copy National Conference in respect of boycott of the local body elections,” said Baig.
Criticising the party “over the way it has performed” during the last two-and-a-half years, Baig said the PDP was “in perils” today and “hasn’t lived up to its vision.”“Why did PDP follow NC, I don’t understand, except that they lamely and unwittingly fell into the trap,” said Baig, adding that the PDP took the decision to boycott (civic polls) without consulting him.
He cautioned the PDP against allying with National Conference for government formation. “The very basis on which PDP was founded was to do away with family rule,” said Baig, claiming that such an alliance, which will be a “Muslim alliance” will “lead to trifurcation of the State.”
By staying away from local body polls, Baig said the PDP “deprived its MLAs and workers of an opportunity to connect with the people”. “The space has been occupied. Political space doesn’t permit any vacuum…Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah boycotted elections and the Plebiscite Front also boycotted polls. What was the result? The result was an election engineered by New Delhi in favour of Congress,” Baig said.
He accused the PDP leadership of “failing to live up to the expectations” of former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed whom he called a “strong believer of unity among communities”. “We failed to form a real alliance with BJP. The two parties remained aloof and their ministers were not intermingling with each other,” said Baig.
Taking on National Conference, Baig said the party’s decision to boycott the polls was a “defensive step taken by it because of certain statements its senior leader had made in Delhi.”
“To overcome the resentment, they decided to boycott the polls,” Baig said, adding that the “ostensibly-stated reason given by NC for boycott that the government of India must clarify its stand on protection of Article 35A was flawed since the fate of the constitutional provision has to be decided by the Supreme Court and not politicians or the government of India”.
“The logic is also flawed because suppose this case takes five years (in SC), will NC, which fooled PDP, stay away from the assembly and parliament elections,” he said.
To a question whether he would like to return as party president, Baig said that last year PDP formed a committee to amend the party’s constitution.“I was chairman of the committee. We submitted a report to Mehbooba Mufti (PDP president). A meeting was supposed to be called for election of new office bearers but that never happened,” he said.
Stating that Mehbooba was “like my younger sister”, Baig said she takes his advice but never implements it.
“But this time when the party took the most important decision ever, I wasn’t consulted at all. I will decide (on resigning from the party) after seeing their reaction,” he said.