Srinagar: While the bonhomie between PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and BJP counterpart Amit Shah in New Delhi was greeted with sighs of relief, the euphoria appears to be short-lived.
The half-an-hour long meet on Thursday between the two leaders was interpreted back in Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘major breakthrough’ for ending political stalemate in the state.
To such extent that a section of the local media speculated that the new PDP-BJP government headed by Mufti would be sworn in by next Friday and that before returning, the PDP leader was likely to have a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also.
The PDP tactfully chose not to react to the reports and both parties remained tight-lipped over the outcome of the meeting. Although in private some of their local leaders expressed optimism about the day not being too far when a new PDP-BJP government would be in place in the state.
BJP’s local leadership were quick to take credit for the ‘impending’ end to deadlock and claimed that the meeting was preceded by a series of discussions between the two sides including BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav and PDP’s chief negotiator and former finance minister Haseeb Ahmed Drabu.
But reports emanating from Delhi that the meeting has been a failure have dashed the high hopes once again.
With Shah making it clear that the government cannot be formed on the basis of conditions, the efforts to revive the BJP-PDP coalition seems to have hit a roadblock. Madhav has acknowledged that the stalemate that existed earlier continued and that conditions cannot be the basis for government formation.
“There is no progress. As far as we are concerned there is no change in conditions that existed when Mufti Muhammed Sayeed Sahib was the Chief Minister. The only change is that Mufti Sahib is no longer there and it was for PDP to appoint a new leader and carry on," he told reporters in Delhi.
He also said, “There is no change in our stand. We have told them that a new government should be formed on the basis on conditions that existed earlier."
The PDP, on the other hand, has been maintaining that whatever it has asked for falls within the parameters of ‘Agenda of the Alliance,’ the common minimum programme arrived for government formation in February-March 2015.
Jammu and Kashmir was placed under Governor’s rule on January 9 as alliance partners PDP and BJP delayed formation of new government necessitated by the demise of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Later the PDP asked for clear-cut assurances from the BJP leadership on the state’s ‘reasonable needs’ as it felt the latter has only gone back on certain commitments made in their ‘Agenda of the Alliance’.
Mufti has, over the past few weeks, publicly demanded J&K-specific Confidence Building Measures towards creating congenial atmosphere for government formation. She also stated categorically that her party will take a call on government formation as and when it is confident that the vision and mission of its patron and former Chief Minister Sayeed will be carried forward and implemented in letter and spirit.
Though she did not spell the CBMs publicly, the party sources said that one of its major concerns has been 'fund-choking' by the Centre which, it believes, became a stumbling block in Sayeed’s ‘mission’ and also came in the way of the rehabilitation of September 2014 flood sufferers and overall developmental process.
The party is also unhappy over Centre’s 'unilaterally trimming' from Prime Minister’s ‘development package,’ the equity assured to the state for buying back two power projects from the National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC) that had received clearance from the PMO.
PDP also demanded relocating certain camps of the security forces particularly in Kashmir Valley to minimize their physical presence in populated areas besides expediting the process of evaluating and paying compensation for lakhs of acres of land under illegal occupation of Army and other central security forces across the State.
It also wanted the Centre to revisit the issue of returning the power projects presently under NHPC to the State and declare its twin capitals Srinagar and Jammu as smart cities.
On Thursday, Governor N.N. Vohra announced that the Army would be returned about 350 acres of the land under its occupation in Srinagar, Jammu, Anantnag and Kagril to the State by March-end. After holding a meeting with the Chief of Army’s Northern Command Lt. Gen. DS Hooda, the Governor also said that all cases relating to the regularisation of certain lands and buildings occupied by the Army at various places across the State were also discussed and decisions were taken to take further action in this regard before May 31.
The PDP had also expressed serious concern over what it saw attempts aimed at fiddling with the State’s special status, guaranteed by Article 370 of the Constitution, by certain individuals associated with the Sangh Parivar and raising of contentious issues like State Flag by some BJP lawmakers including then ministers. The PDP told the BJP that it has only caused embarrassment to it in its bastion-Kashmir Valley....