PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has a flair for doing unconventional things in politics, and she did it again last weekend when she dissolved the Political Affairs Committee of the party to give a jolt to the would be exiters from the party, but instead she gave a jolt to her own leadership. This may read like harsh commentary on the leadership of former Chief Minister who was groomed very carefully by her illustrious father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
There come tough moments in the life of each and every political party. Bhartiya Janta Party that was reduced to two seats in the Parliament in 1984 when Congress won unprecedented majority in the general election held within weeks after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, is ruling the country with a huge majority with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of the country. Congress had lost in 1989 polls, but bounced back in 1991, and with a bigger majority in 2004 and 2009.
Closer home, there were times when National Conference became a pariah. It suffered the most during the militancy, and there was a spate of resignations from the party. The workers feared for their life . They were not only subjected to the bullets but the party leaders had to hear the unprintable language all over. Farooq Abdullah could not shut the abusive noise coming from the loudspeakers fitted right across her home in Gupkar Road in Srinagar. There was a plot to make him flee the place, so that it could be exploited that the NC leader and son of Sher-e-Kashmir ( Lion of Kashmir) Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah fled the land and left the people in lurch.
He showed real perseverance and the qualities of being a leader who could overcome all the adversities stacked against him and his party. He returned mobilized the workers at the time when being an NC member was courting death warrant . These were horrifying times.
Mufti Sayeed was attacked in Bijbehara, and the irony was that the police in 1994 did not list it as an attack. He was undeterred and carried on with his work on the ground . He worked relentlessly, and who would know it better than Mehbooba Mufti that how he confronted challenges and overcame these with his political acumen and a big quality of carrying the team along. He had political bio-data of every person around him and he always wanted more people whom he could consult and interact over serious issues. He was a politician par excellence, but never lost sight of the real issues. In 2009 , when he was out of power , he would give voice to his worries that the Valley was suffering from water crisis . The situation in kandi areas was extremely worrisome . He would talk and listen to others. That was an inspiring quality in him.
These are qualities of real leaders. Leadership is tested in the adverse times not in the happy moments.
The dissolution of the PAC is the prerogative of the party’s leadership .If she felt that there were solid reasons to do so, then this decision should be seen in that light only. But what cannot be ignored is the timing of her decision , within a day after her Pulwama district President Khalil Bandh quit the party and observed that the senior leaders were humiliated by the party leadership after the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Now he has joined National Conference . It is not about Imran Ansari and other former legislators like Basharat Bukhari , Mohammad Abbas Wani who quit the party on their own . The case of party treasurer Altaf Bukhari was different. He was expelled from the party for challenging the leadership and telling it to own the defeat and drift in the party . Whether or not he was ambitious is not the point, the moot issue is that where was the consultation process all along . It is true that Mehbooba Mufti is a leader who was considered as an iron lady for she had displayed all the courage to stand against all odds . She faced difficult situation and the party stood by her at the time when she was out of power after the party could not make it to power after the 2008 elections . The fact that comes to mind is that her father was alive an after his death Mehbooba could neither reconcile to the loss that indeed was irreparable nor could she carry along the party as a whole with her. Something was missing or certain incidents and individuals were inserted in her scheme of things, including her brother Tassaduq Mufti, that her plans went astray.
Everything is not lost for her. She can bounce back, but then she has to be patient, because PDP was not just a group of individuals. It represented an idea of alternate regional party that could fight the other regional forces and also join hands to fight jointly against the assault on what she had called special status of the State. That is at risk of getting lost.