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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Basharat back to office but Imran’s uncle attacks Naeem, Mansoor

Tassaduq and some officials resolve part of the portfolio crisis in PDP; Mehbooba may add some Class-3 portfolios to contrite Ministers

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Feb 20: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s crisis managers on Monday deflated the balloon of a revolt within to some extent as Basharat Bukhari withdrew his resignation and joined as Minister of Horticulture even as the second fuming Minister, Imran Raza Ansari, went ahead with his schedule of pilgrimage in Iran and Iraq.

Mollified by CM’s brother Tassaduq Mufti and some senior Government officials who acted as interlocutors, Basharat in the morning drove to Ms Mufti’s Wazarat Road residence and held his second hour-long meeting with her. Sources privy to the development told STATE TIMES that Basharat made his last-ditch efforts to get some “face saving portfolio” but Chief Minister remained unmoved and made it clear that she would redress the grievance of the two Ministers only after the Parliamentary elections if they withdrew their resignations and accepted the portfolios assigned to them.

According to these well-placed sources, Chief Minister would consider adding some “class-3” portfolios like Culture and Hospitality & Protocol to the two Ministers later this year.

Later, Basharat drove to the Civil Secretariat and joined his duty as Minister of Horticulture. In Monday’s issue, STATE TIMES had exclusively reported that Basharat had returned to Jammu and he was likely to surrender and join as Minister of Horticulture.

Even as a number of Ms Mufti’s emissaries, including her confidantes Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra and Saadut Hussain, called on Imran Ansari, arranged his meeting with Chief Minister and urged him to withdraw his resignation on Saturday and Sunday, he is said to have emphasised that he could not go against the aspirations of his Shia followers. On Sunday, he left for Iran along with his family.

Sources in bureaucracy said that Chief Minister did not forward Ansari’s resignation for acceptance to Governor as PDP was keen not to lose him out to National Conference or Congress. For now, Imran Ansari, whose father late Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari deserted NC in 2005 and remained in PDP until his death in 2014, is the only Shia face in the principal ruling party. However, sources insist, Chief Minister has said repeatedly that she would not succumb to ‘pressure tactics’ in any circumstances.

With the attempts of reconciliation still underway, Imran’s uncle and PDP’s MLA from Zadibal, Maulvi Abid Hussain Ansari, has mounted scathing attacks on Ms Mufti’s confidantes Naeem Akhtar (Minister of R&B) and Peerzada Mansoor Hussain (Vice Chairman Khadi and Village Industries Board), holding them responsible for creating current crisis in the party.

A national daily quoted Abid to have dismissed Akhtar as “saboteur”. “I have understood that Naem sahib doesn’t work for the interest of party but is hell bent at the behest of some agency to destroy PDP to the core,” Abid is reported to have told The Economic Times and offered him challenge to contest an election against him.

“I will leave my assembly seat and leave Kashmir, if Akhtar manages to get 200 votes against me,” Abid, who represents a Shia dominated constituency, has said.

“You cannot ask an MLA to gather people when there is a function in Srinagar and prefer Naem when it comes to portfolios,” said Abid. According to him, there was anger against Akhtar within the party but only few would dare to speak openly about this as they feared retribution from the powerful Minister.

Abid is reported to have said that Akhtar had been “imposed” on the cadres. According to him, he was an MLC and had never contested any election and as such he had no constituency or public commitment. Abid has said that Akhtar should have no problem with a portfolio like Imran’s Youth Services and Sports and demanded that Akhtar’s all-important R&B portfolio be given to Imran who had to reach out to large number of people.

In an interview to Current News Service, Abid is reported to have called Mansoor “black-mailer”, “back-biter” and “BJP man” and held Akhtar “responsible for present disorder” in PDP. He is quoted to have said that the PDP would be decimated in the forthcoming Lok Sabha by-elections for which Naeem Akhtar and Mansoor Hussain would be responsible.

“I was shocked when Chief Minister appointed Mansoor as Vice Chairman of KVIB. This man in league with Naeem Akhtar sowed the seeds of animosity that led to the ouster of Altaf Bukhari, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Abdul Majeed Padder and Muhammad Ashraf Mir from the Council of Ministers. Mansoor knows the job well how to widen wedge between party legislators and workers,” CNS quoted Abid.

According to Abid, Mansoor was “an ordinary employee at SKIMS” and he had by manipulation risen to a position “where he is draining the state exchequer”. 

“Currently, he is handling KVIB and soon people will see how scams will surface there,” he reportedly said and added that Mansoor and Akhtar had brought the party “on the verge of destruction”.

“Naeem and Mansoor are calling shots in the party and it is because of them that Imran was not allocated a new portfolio. Neither of them can compete with Imran who has a great stature. These men will feel the heat when Srinagar will go for polls for the Parliamentary seat,” Abid has reportedly said.

Abid alleged that Akhtar had ruined the Department of Education and claimed that the employees celebrated his removal. “Mark my words, like employees from Education department now the contractors and the PWD employees will hit the roads and blame Akhtar for mess which he is going to create in the department,” Abid has said.

“Our Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti feels that both Naeem Akhtar and Mansoor are assets for the party, though we have repeatedly informed her about their anti-party activities. Time will soon come when she will realize and show them the door,” Abid has reportedly said.

“Akhtar spends much time with non-party men. He is always surrounded by sycophants and mostly he is busy in appeasing BJP men. Till date, he has never solved the problem of any PDP worker” he has said.

Efforts to seek reaction from Akhtar and Mansoor failed as their phones and WhatApp did not respond to calls from this newspaper.


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