Two senior Peoples Democratic Party leaders quit the party to join the National Conference on Wednesday, PTI reported. Former ministers Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari and Peer Mohammad Hussain joined the party in the presence of National Conference party president and Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

The party had expelled Bukhari, the brother of murdered journalist Shujaat Bukhari, and Hussain on Tuesday based on a recommendation from the PDP’s disciplinary committee. Bukhari said, “When opinions do not match with the party leadership, it is high time to call it quits,” PTI quoted Bukhari as saying. “I thought its better to show some respect to myself and walk away and let her [Mehbooba] do whatever she wants to do on the advice of her coterie.”

Hussain, a former MLA from Shangus constituency, was a minister during the Peoples Democratic Party-Congress government in 2002.

The Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference are political rivals. On November 21, the Peoples Democratic Party, the National Conference and the Congress proposed to stake a claim to form the government. People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone also attempted to stake claim the same day with the support of the BJP. Governor Satya Pal Malik, however, dissolved the state Assembly that night.

Farooq Abdullah welcomed the two leaders and expressed hope that their presence in the National Conference will help salvage people from the “current tumultuous times”.

Earlier in December, former state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and MLA Abid Ansari quit the party. Former PDP minister Imran Ansari resigned from the party to join Lone’s People’s Conference.