On November 2, 2002, when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had taken oath as Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of J&K his party, the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), had created history by attaining power within a period of just three-year, after its formation.
PDP was founded by Mufti Sayeed along with a dozen of his loyalists on July 28, 1999, and the party had achieved power by the end of the year 2002. Despite having 16 MLA in his kitty Mufti became Chief Minister of coalition with Congress, having 20 seats.
Not only PDP's rise in the politics of J&K was unprecedented its downfall is also 'extraordinary' because within a span of just three-year the party is on the "verge of extinction."
"PDP is now only a coterie of drawing room politicians having no connects with the grass-root workers", former Rajya Sabha member and one of the founders of the party Trilok Singh Bajwa told International Business Times.
"It is very unfortunate that within a span of just three years the PDP is facing identity crises because almost all senior leaders have quitted the party", Bajwa said, while listing names of leaders who have resigned from the party after 2018.
A prominent farmer leader of Jammu province, Bajwa remained associated with Mufti Sayeed since the days of Janta Dal in the late 1980s. He was among a dozen leaders who formed PDP under the leadership of Mufti Sayeed.
Bajwa has reasons to question the very existence of PDP, which was formed in the year 1999 because all close-aides of Mufti Sayeed have quitted the party. "Except Mehbooba Mufti and Abdul Rehman Veeri all other associated of Mufti Sayeed have left the party", he observed.
Bajwa along with another founder member of the party Ved Mahajan had left PDP on October 26, 2020.
"After the demise of Mufti Sayeed a coterie within the party has sidelined all his loyalists to take complete control of the organization", Ved Mahajan told IBT and regretted that Mehbooba Mufti is appeared to be helpless before this "gang."
To substantiate his allegations, he pointed out that all those who remained loyalists of Mufti Sayeed through every thick and thin were forced to leave the party after his (Mufti's) demise.
Co-founder of PDP and former Deputy Chief Minister of J&K Muzaffar Hussain Beigh had resigned from the party on November 14, 2020. Beigh had charged the incumbent leadership of the party with surrendering before other constituents of the Peoples' Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).
There is a long list of prominent leaders who have resigned from the party. Former Finance Minister and one of the founder members of the party Tariq Hamid Karra had resigned from PDP on September 16, 2016.
After breaking the PDP-BJP alliance on June 19, 2018, senior leaders were appeared to be in a hurry to say goodbye to the party.
In the month of June 2018, PDP had five MPs (three Lok Sabha, two Rajya Sabha members) 28 MLAs and 14 MLCs in its kitty. There was also a strong grass-root level organization structure of the party at that time but as of now only a couple of former legislators are left within the party.
Former lawmaker and party's only mass-base leader in Jammu province, Surinder Choudhary, who left PDP on March 30, regretted that leadership was finding it difficult to come out of the influence of the coterie.
"Instead of realizing why leaders, who remained associated with the party at crucial times, are quitting the PDP, this coterie kept Mehbooba Mufti in the dark by not allowing her to listen to such leaders", Choudhary said, adding, "A false narrative is created within the party that most of the leaders have quitted PDP due to pressure from the central agency. This narrative is far from the reality because leaders have resigned from the party when their view points were not listened to and they were repeatedly ignored in the decision and policy making process".
At this point of time when former PDP leader and president of the newly formed Jammu-Kashmir Apni Party Altaf Bukhari and Sajjad Lone of Peoples' Conference are working assiduously to rope in leaders from other parties, Mehbooba Mufti appears to be helpless in keeping her flock together.