The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) show of strength at the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee proved to be half-baked as 12 MLAs from the party were conspicuous with their absence.
The five rebel PDP MLAs stayed away from the function along with former cabinet minister Haseeb Drabu who also skipped the ceremony making it a second party assembly in a month where he was conspicuous with his absence.
Last month Drabu did not attend the Foundation Day ceremony of the party in Srinagar.
His distance from the party affairs have been in question ever since he was shunted out from the cabinet following his statement that ran in contradiction with party’s stand on Kashmir issue.
On Drabu’s absence, senior PDP leaders said he was away in China and returned only on Saturday but they could not reason his absence from the Foundation Day event.
In addition to rebel MLAs Imran Raza Ansari, Abdul Majeed Padder, Abid Ansari, Javed Baig, Muhammad Abbas Wani, other PDP leaders skipping Vajpayee’s funeral included former ministers Abdul Haq Khan, Javed Mustafa Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari and Asiea Naqash and two MLAs Abdul Rahim Rather and Raja Manzoor.
A senior party leader said Abdul Haq Khan, Raja Manzoor and Abdul Rahim Rather were busy in their respective assembly constituencies, leaving one wondrous that even after the party’s decision to send all MLAs with PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, three MLAs decided to stay back to be in their respective constituencies.
Sources in the party said the former minister Asiea Naqash had a marriage ceremony to attend while Javed Mustafa Mir is on the Hajj pilgrimage and Syed Basharat Bukhari had a personal matter to attend to.
Party’s rebel MLCs, Yasir Reshi and Muhammad Shafi Bhat were also absent from the funeral.
A senior leader in the party said the party had no plans to initiate any disciplinary action against the rebel leaders while the rapprochement has also not been started till date.
Those accompanying Mehbooba included Abdul Rehman Veeri, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjoora, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, Muhammad Ashraf Mir, Syed Farooq Andrabi, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Choudhary Qamar Hussain, Shah Muhammad Tantray, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, Aijaz Ahmad Mir, Yawar Dilawar Mir, Noor Muhammad Sheikh, and Mohammad Yousuf Bhat.
Mehbooba’s entourage also included MLC Naeem Akhtar, Firdaus Ahmad Tak, Khursheed Alam, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, Surinder Choudhary besides Rajya Sabha members Fayaz Ahmad Mir and Nazir Ahmad Laway.
Nominated MLA Anjum Fazili was also part of the entourage along with PDP’s Youth President Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra.
Also absent from the ceremony was senior leader and Member of Parliament Muzzafar Hussain Baig.
On his absence, a senior PDP leader said he was preoccupied with preparations to represent the party in the Supreme Court in relation with Article 35-A hearing scheduled for August 27.
PDP’s show of strength comes at a time when five MLAs along with few MLCs had openly rebelled against the party when it lost power in June this year.
Rebel MLA Imran Ansari had openly came out against the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti calling her “incompetent”.
Owing to the rebellion in the party on charges of nepotism and family rule, the PDP office bearers were forced to step down with Sartaj Madni, the maternal uncle of Mehbooba, stepping down as party’s vice president last month.
PDP has a total of 28 elected MLAs and one nominated MLA in the Assembly.