Peoples Conference has ‘support’ of 15 disgruntled PDP leaders
With the PDP facing an existential crisis and the National Conference (NC) trying hard to hold on to its legislators, both the regional parties are fearing a threat in Sajad Gani Lone’s Peoples Conference, which has two MLAs.
With PDP legislators showing open defiance against the party and NC leader Omar Abdullah repeatedly seeking dissolution of the Legislative Assembly to keep his flock together, Lone is holding all his cards close to his chest and not giving a whiff to the parties about his next move. He is discreet and both the parties are waiting for his next move. Lone has the support of 15 disgruntled PDP leaders led by influential Shiite leader Imran Ansari, said sources close to both the leaders. There is buzz within the NC and the PDP that if the Peoples Conference forms the government with BJP support, it would pose a serious challenge to the Abdullahs and Muftis.
“Lone holds the trump card and is likely to form the government in the next few months with the BJP and disgruntled PDP leaders. Whether he forms the government or not, he has emerged a winner by having the support of disgruntled PDP legislators,” said the sources. Ansari, who is Lone’s close friend, started the revolt against the party. Four other PDP legislators — Abid Ansari, Javid Baigh, Abbas Wani and Yasir Reshi — openly supported Ansari, who disapproved of Mehbooba’s leadership. The sources said the Ansari-led PDP group had got the support of 15 legislators out of the 28-member PDP in the Legislative Assembly. The Ansari-led majority split group would dislodge Mehbooba as party leader and issue a whip to seek support for the government formation with the BJP. “To escape the anti-defection law, the Ansari-led PDP will make a separate group of 15 members. They will claim they are the real PDP and will elect their own leader, who will issue a whip for government formation,” said the sources.
The anti-defection law was invoked by the BJP in 2011 when it moved an application before the Speaker, seeking disqualification of its seven MLAs for voting against their party candidate in the elections to the Legislative Council. The BJP legislators, having a majority in the 11-member party, couldn’t be disqualified till the term of the Assembly ended in 2014.