SRINAGAR: With top leaders of two main mainstream parties in the Valley — the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party — in jail since scrapping of Article 370 on August 5, a new political party led by influential businessman and former PDP leader and Finance Minster Altaf Bukhari would be launched in the Union Territory on March 8. The new party would aim to fill the “political vacuum” created by the loss of influence of the regional satraps.
However, the PDP patron Muzaffar Hussain Baig would not be part of the new party, which is to be named ‘Apni Party’, as he is not willing to play second fiddle to Bukhari, who is junior to him in politics. Former Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, who is the core member of new party, confirmed to this newspaper that the new outfit would be led by Bukhari. Hailing from north Kashmir, Bukhari joined PDP in 2004. He served as finance minister and education minister during PDP-BJP coalition government from 2015-2018 before being expelled for anti-party activities last year.
Sources said around two dozen politicians, mostly former PDP leaders and a few Congress leaders, are likely to be the faces of the party, which is said to have tacit support from the BJP. Bukhari had recently met senior BJP leader Ram Madhav. Though sources ruled out the possibility of Baig joining the new outfit, he had sounded a dissenting note when he termed Article 370 as ‘hollow’. He had also been engaged in hectic parleys with Bukhari on the formation of the new political player in the Valley.
Sources said Baig, who is believed to be close to the BJP, wanted to lead the new party. They said Bukhari had offered him the role of party patron, not president, and tried to convince him to be part of the new outfit. “However, the talks broke down after Baig refused to play the second fiddle,” a source told this newspaper.
Pdp patron baig won’t join ‘apni party’
Though offered the post of patron, PDP leader Muzaffar Baig is unlikely to join the new outfit, to be christened ‘Apni Party’. He wasn’t willing to play second fiddle to Bukhari, claimed sources