Five dissenting leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party on Friday dismissed former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s claim that they were rebelling at the Centre’s behest. They called it a “serious allegation” and denied they had left the party.

Earlier in the day, Mufti warned the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre against trying to tear her party apart. The BJP walked out of a three-year alliance with the PDP on June 19, leading to the fall of the state government.

Mufti’s statement implied that the “institution of MLA is so corrupt that anyone can buy it”, said legislator Javaid Baig, one of the five leaders. “Secondly, [her trying to] label [us as] puppets is to put us in front a lynch mob,” he said at a press conference in Srinagar. “This can put our families at risk, workers at risk. Our lives have been put at risk.”

Baig made the remarks at a press conference along with legislators Imran Ansari, Majeed Padder, Yasir Reshi and Safuddin Bhat.

Imran Ansari said the group intends to bring out “common issues” and wants to fight the “two-family rule” in the state. “We do not believe in two-family rule,” he said, referring to the Abdullah and the Mufti families. “These two families have always believed that they are indispensable.”

Ansari pointed out all five of them have a voter base. “If you can brand [legislators] as such, you can call a common man anything,” he said, adding that they were against “cronyism, nepotism, corruption and failure in delivery”. The five said they have no faith in Mufti’s leadership.

Baig alleged that seniors in the party had been sidelined. “Unfortunately the seniors, our political assets, were not only sidelined, they were kept at bay from party matters,” he said. “You [Mufti] have only sought loyalists to your family to run the government.”

Safuddin Bhat reiterated that the five “are in the PDP, we are from the PDP”. He claimed they want to strengthen and reform the party. “If they do not, accordingly we will take the next step,” Bhat said. “We will take any step to reform the party.”