The Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday told her party workers to "not take the deserters seriously" and asserted that she would "compensate the exit of leaders from the party with new entrants."
Addressing delegations of PDP workers from six assembly segments of Chenab region in Jammu province, Mehbooba, according to a source, said that more people may leave the party in coming days but "an equal number of prominent leaders will join it."
The source however said Mehbooba didn't disclose the names of those who are planning to leave the PDP or join it.
Mehbooba met the PDP workers from Kishtwar, Inderwal, Bhaderwah, Doda, Banihal and Ramban areas to seek their "feedback" about the "situation on ground" vis-à-vis assembly elections scheduled next year.
Mehbooba, the source said, was of the opinion that those who left her party were "parachute entries who parted their ways in the same manner".
Mehbooba's remarks come amid a rebellion that has hit PDP ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party pulled out of the alliance with it in June this year.
Mehbooba, who has already chaired meetings of the party's political affairs committee and the core group in the past three weeks, finds herself in the middle of a crisis.
In the past six months, five senior leaders—Imran Raza Ansari, Basharat Bukhari, Abid Ansari, Haseeb Drabu, Muhammad Abbas Wani and Peer Muhammad Hussain—have quit the party.
During the Tuesday's meeting, Mehbooba also claimed that she was not in favour of re-entering into an alliance with the Bharatiya Janta Party after the death of her father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in 2016, "especially in view of the government of India's uncertain stance on transferring some power projects back to Jammu and Kashmir".
"But", she said, "Since some party leaders wanted this (alliance) to happen again, I gave a nod to it".
Asking the workers to strengthen the party's base in Jammu region, the PDP president, according to the source, said that a "false impression is being created by National Conference leaders that there is a strong wave in favour of the NC in Kashmir region".
Mehbooba advised the workers to "not pay any heed to such rumours", claiming that "people in Kashmir might be angry with PDP for entering into an alliance with BJP, but they are not anti-PDP."
Mehbooba also said that she took a "strong stand" in the Rasana rape and murder case and claimed that if she had succumbed to the BJP's pressure, "no one would have taken the case to its logical end."
A PDP insider said Mehbooba asked the workers to "strive hard in Jammu region to ensure that the party wins maximum seats in the parliamentary and legislative assembly elections".