Bitter and incensed over internal party bickering and growing coteries, ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has appointed a party leader as an interface between her and ministers to reassert grip over the party in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said junior Mufti, also a member parliament from south Kashmir's Anantnag constituency, has hit a low with the party patron and state chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed too. The father-daughter duo, according to sources, was not on the same page on a number of issues, which brought some bitterness in the relationship.
The recent reshuffles, several postings and PDP ministers brazen indulgence in groupism, self promotion and politics to quarantine Sayeed saw Mehbooba taking an extreme and rare step this week. She has appointed a close confidante Peerzada Mansoor Hussain as her political advisor, who will double up as a go-between for the PDP minsters and junior Mufti.
"Mansoor will assist the president in the day to day organisational matters and convey her directions on different subjects whenever necessary. He will also liaise with the party ministers and remain in contact with the government on behalf of the party president to take up and pursue matters of public interest and grievances," said a PDP spokesman.
The decision to appoint a liaison between Mehbooba and ministers is former's attempt to regain grip over party affairs, particularly ministers.
The move comes in the backdrop of two senior cabinet ministers haggling over influence within the party, dividing it into two camps vertically. The situation reached to a point where presence of a senior cabinet minister will keep another cabinet minister away even in chief minister Sayeed's public appearances, interaction with civil society and tours of constituencies.
The split was wide open when these leaders spoke in contrasting language on the crucial issues of new employment policy and creation of composite Pandit townships. While one refuted to acknowledge that any employment policy is in vogue to hire people on minimum wages, another minister made public statement claiming the policy stays without a roll back. Similarly, the return of Pandit issues saw party leaders split and talking in different directions.
The bickering and groupism fast became gossip within the party and hit the public domain too, blowing a dent. Mehbooba is seen now firefighting to keep the flock intact and efficient.
This is for the first time that Sayeed is handling around 36 legislators, including MLAs and MLCs of the party. The PDP, for the first time ever, won highest 28 seats in the 87-member assembly. Sayeed is also handling 12 party ministers, most of them first timers.