How will Muzaffar Beigh’s ‘Ghar Wapasi’ impact PDP?

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Srinagar, Jan 7 (IANS) Muzaffar Hussain Beigh’s rejoining the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seen as a significant political development which could have far-reaching consequences on J&K politics.

Beigh was the second senior most PDP leader after the party’s founder and former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

Sayeed had formed the PDP in August 1998 to provide the people of J&K a regional alternative to the well-entrenched National Conference (NC). When he became the Chief Minister after the 2002 Assembly elections, Beigh was seen as his strongest lieutenant and was sworn in as a cabinet minister.

When Ghulam Nabi Azad took over as the Chief Minister from Sayeed in 2005 as per the terms of the Congress-PDP alliance, Beigh became the Deputy Chief Minister.

As the senior-most leader of the party, it was natural for Beigh to expect to head the PDP after Sayeed’s death in 2016. But, instead of him, Mehbooba Mufti, Sayeed’s daughter, took over as the PDP chief.

Beigh remained in the party, but his relationship with Mehbooba Mufti is believed to have been hot and cold after 2016.

Due to loyalties to the Mufti family, many senior PDP leaders always harboured misgivings about Beigh since they saw him as somebody who could challenge the right of Mehbooba Mufti to step into the shoes of her father.

In addition to those who did not like Beigh’s continuation in the PDP after Sayeed’s death, there were some Beigh loyalists also in the PDP, right upto the ground workers level, especially in Baramulla district to which Beigh belonged.

The tipping point came in 2020 following developments within the PDP after Article 370 was abrogated and J&K downgraded to a Union Territory on August 5, 2019.

Desperate regional parties like the NC, PDP, Awami National Conference and others saw the development as the end of regional politics in J&K. These parties formed an alliance called the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), headed by NC patron, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, demanding restoration of Article 370 and statehood to J&K.

On November 14, 2020 Beigh quit the PDP over differences with Mehbooba Mufti, contending that she had conceded most of the seats in Panchayat and local body elections to the NC and she had done this without consulting him.

Beigh and his wife, Safina Beigh joined the Peoples Conference (PC) headed by Sajad Gani Lone.

After over four years, Beigh and his wife chose to rejoin the PDP on Sunday, coinciding with the death anniversary of Mufti Sayeed.

There is little doubt that Mehbooba Mufti would face criticism from her loyalists for allowing Beigh to rejoin the party which the loyalists claim, he left during a very crucial period for the PDP. On the other hand, there are some PDP leaders who believe that Beigh’s ‘Ghar Wapasi’ would strengthen the PDP.

Beigh’s homecoming has proved one thing with fair amount of certainty. Mehbooba Mufti has taken a gamble by allowing Beigh to rejoin the PDP. Which way the dice falls now for her and the party, only time will tell.



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