Three Peoples Democratic Party leaders on Thursday resigned from the party, saying that it has become the “B team” of the National Conference, ANI reported. The leaders are Daman Bhasin, Fallail Singh and Pritam Kotwal.

In a joint letter, the leaders said that they had joined the PDP on the first day of its formation with an aim to provide a secular alternative to “corrupt and dynast” National Conference as former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, father of PDP’s chief Mehbooba Mufti, had envisioned. “... but the party leadership has, unfortunately, abandoned Mufti Sahib agenda to become B team of NC,” the letter said.

The leaders said the party has made some “provocative and controversial” statements against the basic principles of Sayeed. “Keeping in view the prevailing situation, being disciples of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed it is difficult for us to work in the party which has become second fiddle to the NC,” they said. “We are forced to take this difficult decision with heavy heart to leave the party which we were formed as disciples of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.”

The criticism of being NC’s “second fiddle” stemmed from the PDP joining hands with the Farooq Abdullah-led party and a few other regional parties in an alliance called People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. Abdullah was chosen the alliance’s chairperson and Mufti as his deputy.

Three more PDP leaders – TS Bajwa, Ved Mahajan and Hussain A Waffa – had in October resigned from the party, saying that Mehbooba Mufti’s statements “hurt patriotic sentiments”.

On October 23, Mufti had said that her party would bring back the state flag and not abandon the battle for special status for Jammu and Kashmir. “My flag is this,” Mufti had remarked, pointing to the Jammu and Kashmir flag. “When this flag comes back, we’ll raise that flag [Indian tricolour] too.”

She had added: “Until we get our own flag back, we won’t raise any other flag...This flag forged our relationship with that flag.” Her statement courted a controversy with the Bharatiya Janata Party criticising her for it.