Muzaffar Baig’s Riveting Return Sparks Renewed Political Dynamics,”Mehbooba Mufti’s Reconciliation Sets Stage for Political Renewal”

wilayattimes (Jammu and Kashmir)

Srinagar | WTNS | Jan 011:In a notable comeback, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, former J&K deputy chief minister, returned to the PDP after a three-year hiatus. The re-joining ceremony, attended by Baig and his wife Safina Baig, took place in the presence of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. The event marked the eighth death anniversary of party founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, with Baig offering prayers at Sayeed’s grave in Anantnag district’s Bijbehara town.

As speculation swirls within the party about the strategic implications of Baig’s return, some view it as a calculated move by the PDP to present a united front. However, dissenting voices persist, criticizing Baig for his opposition to Article 370 in 2020. Notably, Baig, an advocate, subsequently defended J&K’s special status in a significant legal battle at the Supreme Court.

In a touching moment, Mehbooba affectionately referred to Baig as an older brother, acknowledging the complexities that can arise within a family. “Sometimes, within the family, certain things unfold. However, we should cast aside all past grievances for the betterment of the times that lie ahead,” she expressed with a tone of optimism and familial warmth.

Baig clarified that his current status within the party is “inactive,” denying any departure. The seasoned politician emphasized that the primary goal remains steering Jammu and Kashmir out of its current challenges. Encouraged by his reengagement, Mehbooba urged the youth not to despair, expressing optimism that the challenging times will soon subside.

“Padma Bhushan awardee Baig’s return is seen as PDP’s unity move, As an advocate, he defended J&K’s special status in the Supreme Court.”

In a political twist, 77-year-old Baig, a longstanding member of the PDP since 1998, found himself at odds with the party after the seismic changes following the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. As part of the PAGD, a coalition of seven parties, they collectively decided to participate in the District Development Council (DDC) elections in October 2020. However, discord arose when Baig expressed dissatisfaction with the allocation of seats. Inside sources revealed that Safeena, aspiring to contest the Wagoora DDC seat as a PDP candidate, faced disappointment as the seat was awarded to the NC. This led to the Baigs’ discontent, prompting Baig to part ways with the PDP in November 2020. In an unexpected move, he officially joined Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference in March 2021, only to face expulsion mere months later.

Muzaffar Hussain Baig, a prominent figure in Jammu and Kashmir’s political landscape, garnered attention when the Modi government awarded him the prestigious Padma Bhushan, raising eyebrows amidst speculations about BJP’s influence on the Kashmir-centric Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A co-founder of PDP, Baig’s inclusion in the list of 16 individuals receiving the award surprised political observers. The timing, coming soon after BJP withdrew support to Mehbooba Mufti’s government, added a layer of intrigue. Baig, known for his criticism of Mehbooba leadership after Mufti Sayeed’s demise, stood out as one of the few Kashmiri politicians untouched by government detention following the Article 370 abrogation.

Notably, while the PDP leadership remained tight-lipped, Baig, in a strategic move, dedicated his Padma Bhushan to the people of Jammu and Kashmir on Republic Day, emphasizing the award’s significance for the region. In a symbolic gesture, he posed with a copy of the Constitution, stating, “This award is not for me but for the people.”

Expressing firm views on the region’s status, Baig dismissed the idea of a referendum in J&K and called for adherence to the Constitution. He advocated the release of political detainees, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti.

Muzaffar Hussain Baig’s return to the political arena over the weekend stirred a pot of disagreements within the PDP ranks. Notably, Baig, hailed as the first Kashmiri leader to label Article 370 as a “legislation of history,” maintained a vocal opposition to it, setting him apart from Mufti’s stance, which pledged to continue the fight post the Supreme Court’s validation of the revocation.

Widely dubbed as “New Delhi’s man in Kashmir,” Baig’s narrative took an intriguing turn when he received the prestigious Padma Bhushan in January 2020, a mere six months after the Centre revoked the special status. The acceptance of this honor by Baig, amidst the incarceration of much of his party’s leadership, including Mufti, under the Public Safety Act, sparked initial dissent within the party.

As Baig’s return unfolds, it introduces a dynamic shift in the PDP landscape, potentially paving the way for constructive dialogue within the party. His steadfast commitment to principles and acceptance of accolades during challenging times serves as a compelling narrative of political resilience in the tumultuous region. The evolving scenario presents a hybrid blend of political dynamics, personal principles, and the complex interplay of regional and national interests.

Safina is currently chairperson J&K Hajj Committee and Baramulla district development council chairperson.

Safina Baig, chairperson of District Development Council in Baramulla, and an advocate by profession. She was elected as a member of DDC Wagoora Constituency which she won with a huge margin, and eventually rose through the ranks to become the chairperson DDC, Baramulla. She is playing a critical role in ensuring active participation of women in scripting a new chapter in politics where women are given the space and responsibility to shape a better future for the generations to come.