PDP frowns as Altaf Bukhari backs Omar’s ‘no to coalition’ idea

The senior Peoples Democratic Party leader Altaf Bukhari’s open support to the National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah’s remarks that people should elect a single-party government in Jammu and Kashmir ruffled a few feathers in the PDP which Tuesday termed Bukhari’s commen
PDP frowns as Altaf Bukhari backs Omar’s ‘no to coalition’ idea
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The senior Peoples Democratic Party leader Altaf Bukhari's open support to the National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah's remarks that people should elect a single-party government in Jammu and Kashmir ruffled a few feathers in the PDP which Tuesday termed Bukhari's comments as "personal" while strongly backing the idea of coalition rule.

In a dramatic turn of events, Bukhari, a former finance minister, this afternoon seconded Omar's statement calling for a decisive mandate in the assembly elections for return of the single-party government era in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I want people of the state to elect a single party government, keeping in view challenges and problems faced by the people," Omar had said at a function in Jammu on Monday.

In a statement, Bukhari responded to Omar's remarks, and said: 'I personally believe that Kashmir has suffered a lot because of coalition politics that started since 2002".

The PDP leader referred to the first coalition government between PDP and Congress that didn't last its full term.

Referring to what he called the "bitter experiments" of 2002, 2008 and 2015 coalition government formations in Jammu and Kashmir, Bukhari went on to say that people of the state "suffered immensely due to coalition compulsions".

"Be it PDP-Congress, NC-Congress or PDP-BJP coalition governments, all these equations undermined accountability as interests and expectations of the people, particularly voters of either of the coalition partners, were not addressed," Bukhari said.

Bukhari's statement to media was shared by Omar on twitter.

"Very strong statement especially about the political blackmail of smaller parties in coalitions," Omar wrote, referring to PDP members' statement.

A few hours later, PDP vice-president Abdur Rehman Veeri issued a statement in which he termed Bukhari's remarks as "his personal opinion and not that of the party".

The PDP president Mehbooba Mufti then took to twitter to oppose Omar's statement and said that she supported the idea of a coalition government because "it delivers better results than single-party majority regimes".

Though she didn't name either Omar or Bukhari, Mehbooba however termed opening of cross LoC roads during the PDP-Congress coalition rule in 2002 as "singular political achievement" post-1947.

She also talked about "brute majority" that the National Conference had won in the past and "sell-out" by it later.

"Brute majority has had a history of sell-outs in J&K. With 60 members, NC sold out power houses, brought Ikhwan, task force, POTA," Mehbooba tweeted.

This is not for the first time that Bukhari's statement has caught attention in political circles.

When J&K was in the middle of governor's rule in November last year, Bukhari was the first to back the idea of a grand alliance between National Conference, PDP and Congress.

Though he had termed it as his personal opinion that time, the three parties went ahead to join hands and support Mehbooba Mufti for government formation before the governor dissolved the state assembly.

But Bukhari stuck to his statement today.

"People have suffered immensely under the coalition rules. I am sure people will take a decision that best suits the interests of the state and vote for single party government formation," he said.

This war of words within the PDP has surfaced at a time when Mehbooba is faced with growing rebellion in the party.

Seven of her former MLAs including three former ministers have already quit the party, apart from some second-rung leaders including a former general secretary.

"The statement (of Bukhari) is in no way the party line. The context in which he issued the statement can be described by him only. But we believe it is just a statement from his side and we shouldn't read too much into it," Veeri told Greater Kashmir.

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