PDP building pressure on rebels, may expel them

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Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, July 12: Amid reports that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders from Jammu have held meetings with the BJP central leadership to get a nod for forming a government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Peoples Democratic Party is mulling to expel the rebel legislators.
On Wednesday state president of J&K unit Ravinder Raina and former deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh met state’s party-in-charge Ram Madhav.
Sources said that these leaders reportedly apprised Madhav about PDP rebel leaders being ready to extend support to BJP to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir.
Insiders revealed that rebel MLAs which have not met the PDP President despite being sent the invitation by the party leadership are under scanner. “The PDP is contemplating to act against the legislators if they don’t come forward to meet the PDP President,” the insider added.
He said that PDP leadership fears that if the rebels join hands with the BJP they could pull out some more people and it would be embarrassing for the party leadership.
An expert said that even if PDP expels the rebels the discretion of disqualifying them from the Assembly lies with the Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh, who is the BJP leader. “At present PDP has no option other than persuading the rebels not to leave the party. But the disgruntled leaders seem to be in no mood to reconcile and have already made up their mind,” the expert added.
He said given the political uncertainty in the state there are very few possibilities about BJP Speaker disqualifying the expelled members from the house and if the splinter group is formed it would benefit BJP directly.
An analyst said, “PDP top leadership seems to be all set for paying a heavy price for ignoring its legislators and keeping them away from the party affairs. The anger of rebels is directed against the family members of the PDP leadership who were handling the party affairs and were running the government.”
He said that recently PDP President Mehbooba Mufti chaired the crucial meet of the party but her close aides Peerzada Mansoor, Sartaj Madni and Naeem Akther did not attend the crucial meeting. “Mehbooba Mufti is making desperate attempts to keep her flock together. In order to make the rebels think the PDP leadership is creating a notion that it would take a stern action against the rebels.”
It may be recalled that on June 19, the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. Announcing the decision, Madhav had said that it was becoming untenable for the party to continue with its ally in the state.
The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 87 members, and the People’s Democratic Party is the single largest party with 28 MLAs, followed by the BJP with 25, JKNC with 15 and the Congress has 12 MLAs. For any party to form a government in the state, it must have support of at least 44 MLAs.