In a setback to Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, longtime worker of the ruling party from Ganderbal district, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat has quit and decided to contest the Lok Sabha polls against union minister Farooq Abdullah as an independent candidate.
"I have quit the National Conference. People of my area urged me to contest the Parliament elections and I will follow their wish," Bhat, who was associated with the party since 1975, told PTI.
Bhat, a key witness to the custodial death of another NC worker Haji Mohammad Yousuf in 2011, said the party's leadership was ignoring the old guard and promoting 'outsiders' to important positions in the party.
"During the times of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (NC founder), decisions about party matters were taken after consulting all the workers. Farooq Abdullah also continued this practice for fairly long time but it has stopped since Omar Abdullah took charge," he added.
Bhat said Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is also working president of National Conference, is being surrounded by 'outsiders'.
"Those who are holding important posts have come from nowhere but those who have shed blood and sweat for the party have been ignored," he said in apparent reference to provincial presidents of NC Nasir Aslam Wani (Kashmir) and DS Rana (Jammu).
Bhat, however, trashed some local media reports which had quoted him as saying that he will unravel the true story about death of Haji Mohammad Yousuf in September 2011.
"I have already made a statement about the issue before the commission of inquiry. If there is anything more to say, I will say it at the time of filing nomination papers. What has been reported in local media is not correct," he said.
This is second major setback for NC in Ganderbal, Omar's assembly constituency, as another veteran leader Sheikh Ghulam Mohammad Saloora quit the party few months ago.