Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: The National Conference on Friday suffered a setback when its senior leader Rafi Ahmad Mir resigned from the party.

Mr. Mir, a former MLA and the party's provincial secretary, in a letter to party president Omar Abdullah said: "The events over the last week have brought to the fore the central issue of the neglect of grass roots workers in favour of arm chair leaders. All of us are aware that the party is going through a phase of rebuilding and, therefore, it becomes imperative to strengthen the hands of foot soldiers working in tandem with ground realities.

"However, the impression created among the devoted and committed workers is that although the leadership shows concern it does not deliver when required to do so resulting in the cadre feeling let down."

Mr. Mir was a credible and a popular face of the party in south Kashmir. Stating that people with vested interests had hijacked the party affairs, Mr. Mir said: "Despite your youthful dynamism, your hands are tied by intra-party issues and the vested interest, which seems to be in command."

Pointing out that there was no policy on vital issues, he said: "It also pains me to point out the lack of a well defined policy on withdrawal of armed forces and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. All this has deepened my sense of suffocation in the party, which I had served for decades. It pains me to do so but I am left with no option but to severe my connection with the party. Kindly accept my resignation from the primary membership."

Sources close to Mr. Mir said he is likely to join the ruling PDP. He contested against the former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, in 2004.