Srinagar: The two ministers who resigned from the Mehbooba Mufti-led government on Friday are willing to rejoin the cabinet if their portfolios are changed.
The two PDP ministers, Syed Basharat Bukhari and Imran Raza Ansari, resigned hours after the first cabinet rejig in the coalition PDP-BJP government. Ansari, who wields influence on the Shia electorate, had not been “happy” with the charge of youth services and sports ministry. Ansari told Kashmir Reader that from day one he had been asking Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to change his portfolio, but nothing happened.
“I don’t want to be part of the government where I sit and deliver nothing. The ministry was consuming my time without any output… if they change my portfolio, I will think over it,” he told Kashmir Reader.
He said he is a “leader of masses” across the state and people had many expectations from him, which he was not able to deliver in his current portfolio.
“I was not given my due. I have not just followers in Kashmir but also in Jammu region. I have a village profile and I want a ministry where I can serve the common people. People have expectations from me. I talked about change in my portfolio from day one but nothing happened,” he said.
Though Mehbooba has not communicated with either Ansari or Bukhari since their resignation, but it is learnt that several party leaders have reached out to the disgruntled legislators.
A senior minister privy to the development said the ruling party’s top brass does not want to send out “wrong vibes” before the crucial parliamentary polls in Srinagar and Anantnag. Ansari, especially, is credited with helping the PDP get votes in Shia-dominated constituencies including Srinagar’s Hazaratbal in the 2014 assembly polls. The Hazratbal constituency, where a less-popular Asia Naqash was voted to power, has significant Shia electorate especially in the interiors of Dal Lake. Ansari derives his cult following from his late father Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, a Shia spiritual leader and a four-time MLA, who switched sides and joined the PDP in 2006 after serving as minister in National Conference and Congress governments. Ansari’s uncle Abid Hussain Ansari, who also enjoys support among Shias, is also a PDP legislator. The Shia voters will play a significant role in the upcoming parliamentary polls for Srinagar seat, which fell vacant after Tariq Hameed Karra called it quits last year.
Basharat, it is learnt, is also ready to return if his portfolio is changed or elevated. He was divested of the revenue, relief and rehabilitation ministry in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle. He felt offended after being assigned a low-key ministry, his close associates said.
Sources said that PDP leaders met the duo at their residences in Srinagar and insisted that they reconsider their decision. Basharat was due to fly to Jammu but he cancelled his plans and stayed back.
“Both will join the cabinet and these are minor issues. Mehbooba ji has not considered their resignations,” said one of the leaders who met the duo.
Mehbooba’s office did not respond to repeated calls.