In another major jolt to the Peoples Democratic Party, its senior member and former minister Javaid Mustafa Mir quit the party on Saturday, as troubles continue to grow for Mehbooba Mufti who has been struggling to keep the flock together.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Mir said he has resigned from the party.
"I will send my resignation to the party leadership tomorrow (Sunday) morning," Mir said.
Though he refused to talk about the reasons that prompted the decision, rumours were rife for quite some time now that he was considering quitting the party.
"It is my personal decision. I will not speak anything more at this moment," he said.
Mir is the sixth former PDP MLA to quit the party in less than three months. Others who have already resigned from the PDP include BasharatBukhari, Imran Ansari, HaseebDrabu, Abid Ansari and Muhammad Abbas Wani. While Bukhari has joined National Conference, the Ansaris have joined Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference.
An outspoken member, Mir was the face of the PDP in central Budgam district.
A three-time MLA from Chadoora constituency, Mir had started his political career with the PDP in 2002. Since then, he has remained undefeated from the constituency. He had taken a plunge into the state's politics after the killing of his father and former MLA, Mir Mustafa, in March 1990.
"It is a sad news for the party. Undoubtedly he (Mir) was one of the faces of the party and a bold voice," said a senior PDP member.
When PDP decided to form an alliance with the BJP in 2015, Mir was inducted as minister for revenue in Mufti Muhammad Sayeed-led government. But he was surprisingly dropped by Mehbooba Mufti from her ministerial team when she took oath as chief minister on 4 April 2016.
This led to his growing differences with the party leadership. Since then he had been critical of her party's function in the coalition government and had openly voiced his criticism in state assembly.
In December 2017, he was inducted into the cabinet along with brother of Mehbooba, Tasaduq Mufti, months before the government collapsed in June last year.
Of late, Mir had maintained distance from the party affairs and skipped some crucial meetings and functions.
Though in August 2018, Mir was nominated by Mehbooba as member of the PDP's political affairs committee, the party's highest decision-making body, he continued to maintain distance from the party.
To a question about his future plans, Mir evaded a direct response.
"As of now I have resigned. Let's see what happens," he said.
The PDP was hit by a rebellion soon after its former ally, BJP, withdrew support to it on June 19, bringing sudden end to the Mehbooba-led government.
Days later, seven former legislators of the party rebelled against the leadership. The rebellion was led by Imran Ansari. Two party members, JavaidBaigh and Abdul Majid, who had joined the rebel chorus, returned to the fold later.
But since then, the rebellion has crept in at the lower ranks in the PDP and spread from northern to southern Kashmir while hitting the party in Jammu as well.
In December last year some other leaders including Bashir Ahmad Runiyal, Mehboob Iqbal and Raja Aijaz Ali resigned from the party.
The PDP has been hit by rebellion at a time when assembly elections are only a few months away in J&K.