Srinagar: Former PWD minister and senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari told party workers from his Amira Kadal constituency that he will not be part of the new cabinet, giving credence to reports suggesting PDP may not repeat the previous ministerial team.
Bukhari hosted the workers at his home and told them that though he will not be part of the ministry, he will continue to “participate in development works”.
A leader, who was part of the meeting, while confirming the development said Bukhari told them that he accepts the decision of the party.
“He told us to strengthen the government-led by Mehbooba. He will attend the oath taking ceremony in Jammu. But he will not be a minister this time. The heads of all the 11 wards of his constituency who participated in the meeting endorsed the party decision in the meeting,” the leader told Kashmir Reader.
Bukhari’s expulsion is being seen as Mehbooba first decision to send out a strong message to his senior party leaders that she would not be bowed down.
At her Fairview residence when she was anointed as Legislature Party Leader last month, she told the legislators that some of them would have to work for the party. On Friday, the PDP restructured the party, and barring Mehbooba, all the top office bearers relinquished their posts which indicated Mehbooba’s plan of assigning responsibility to some legislators.
“Now, she wants to take every step in a calculated manner and ensure her decision prevails over others because that’s what she stands for. Some leaders may not like that,” a senior PDP leader, wishing anonymity, said.
Bukhari was reportedly among the leaders who had been insisting Mehbooba to align with the saffron party again after the death of her father Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
The 56-year-old Mehbooba is battling pressures both within the party and from BJP, which has been seeking an equal share in the portfolios in the government.
The internal pressure, which reportedly had been built by a group of legislators, including Bukhari, was aimed at pushing her into forming the government without waiting for the CBMs and concessions she had been demanding from the government of India led by BJP. Ultimately, she decided to form the government without the concessions to keep her flock together.
Bukhari’s expulsion is likely to pave way for some fresh entrants in the second innings of government. A senior PDP leader said hectic lobbying was on for induction of new faces. There might be some change in portfolios as well, the leader said.