Mehbooba’s political puzzle; Beigh, Qarra, valley voters

Having delayed taking over reins of power in Jammu and Kashmir, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti is befuddled with multiple issues both within the party and outside. Hence, she is unlikely to take the risk of allying with BJP.

Sources said that if at all, she takes the plunge, it will be purely to prevent New Delhi from fiddling with her party by either making senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig realise his widely speculated dream of becoming Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir or pushing someone else in PDP to create a breakaway faction, ally with BJP and form the government. Otherwise, Mehbooba Mufti is unlikely to take a call on government formation merely because some of her MLAs want to become ministers or that the MLAs are pressurising her to forget her constituency and take over.

A senior PDP leader said that Mehbooba knows well how her father kept the party intact despite two senior leaders namely Muzaffar Hussain Beig and Tariq Hameed Qarra being at loggerheads with her both publicly as well as in private. He added that after Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, Beig who repeatedly says that he is the founder of PDP considers himself the fitting candidate for being elevated as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The leader said that Beigh has always nursed the dream of becoming Chief Minister but it was persona of Mufti Sahab because of which he could never gather courage to engineer defection in the party and rise like G.M.Shah.

But with Mufti no more around and Mehbooba delaying the take-over; Beigh is likely to get stronger with each passing day. Sources said that being an astute politician, Beigh knows well that sympathy factor which Mehbooba enjoyed immediately after the death of her father is melting away and if there is further delay in government formation, those MLAs of PDP who feel they won’t be able to return to assembly if elections are held afresh are likely to walk behind Beigh for enjoying power.

They are not going to listen to the song of PDP gaining by staying away from BJP, said a leader from the PDP. Though Beigh is unlikely to stage a coup given the fact that Mehbooba Mufti still enjoys complete confidence of around 18 MLAs but with 9 MLAs around him and BJP being in power in center, the leader said that the possibility of Beigh being propped-up as new power center in Kashmir valley should not be ruled out. On being asked about Beigh’s relationships with Mehbooba Mufti, the leaders said ‘he considers himself senior to her and next after late Mufti sahab.’

Stating that one can gauge increased importance of Muzaffar Hussain Beigh by looking at how Javed Beigh has suddenly come in the limelight and how Mehbooba is carrying Beigh around, he said ‘Beigh was not this much important when Mufti sahab was around. Had he been this important then, Javed Beigh would have become a minister and Mufti would have ensured Muzaffar Hussain Beigh is accommodated by Prime Minister Narinder Modi in his union cabinet.’

None cared what he was doing despite he being an important part of PDP when it was formed, said a close aide of Beigh. He maintained that Beigh is not the only headache; Mehbooba has to deal with Srinagar MP Tariq Hameed Qarra also who has been openly speaking against alliance with BJP. “Qarra enjoys proximity in certain important quarters in valley. These have helped PDP a lot. So Mehbooba has also to create adequate space for him in the party so that he stops complaining,” added the aide.

Sources said that Mehbooba knows well that when Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was in office, limelight was on team Nayeem Akhtar but with him no more around, Beigh and Qarra have become equally important. Apart from these contradictions, Mehbooba being a complete politician knows well that the alliance with BJP was not popular decision in Kashmir valley.

Even then, Mehbooba and her party thought that BJP would not touch controversial issues and prefer governing the state well. But that did not happen, said a source. He maintained that PDP was taken aback by the way some BJP leaders despite being part of the coalition rebuked and abused its ideology. “Mehbooba Mufti knows that if she forms the government and similar issues crop up, it would be difficult for her to govern,” added the source who is known the political circles for being close to Mehbooba.

However, he did say that certain people who are friends of both PDP and BJP are still making attempts to convince Mehbooba to take over and not fear about anything. “She would a take decision only if she is convinced that it won’t be detrimental to her party. If she feels that the decision could be damaging to the interests of the party, she is not the one who will take a plunge. Besides, she has to prevent dissentions within her party,” added the leader. He affirmed that it is central leadership of BJP which will have to convince her.

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