Deadlock ends: PDP-BJP set to form J&K government by March 29

Mehbooba Mufti will hold a PDP meet on Thursday where the party will formally elect its CM candidate.

Srinagar: Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)’s legislature party will meet here on Thursday to formally elect its leader in the run-up to the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Party president Mehbooba Mufti, the consensus candidate for the chief minister’s post, before her election as legislature party leader which appears to be inevitable now would be holding a ‘marathon meeting’ with PDP legislators to brief them on the outcome of her latest round of talks with BJP leadership including a one-on-one meeting she had had with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in Delhi on Tuesday.

Read: J&K govt formation: Mufti meets Modi, terms meeting as ‘very positive’

She would also device strategy for a stable and responsive government with alliance partner, party sources said. Senior party leaders and office-bearers including the members of its high-power core group will also be attending the meeting, sources added.

After her election as PDP legislature party leader, Ms. Mufti will meet Governor N.N.Vohra to stake claim to form new coalition government with BJP. Naeem Akhtar, a former minister and close confidant of the Muftis said, “We are meeting on Thursday and hopefully government should be in place by 29th of March.” PDP had won 28 seats in the November-December 2014 Assembly elections but after the death of its patron and former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, on January 7 this year its tally has come down to 27.

The saffron party which has 25 members in the 87-member House is expected to write a separate letter of support for Ms. Mufti to the Governor. The National Conference and Congress have 15 and 12 members, respectively whereas smaller parties and independent candidates are holding the remaining seats.

The talks between the alliance partners had reached a dead end last week when Ms Mufti’s half-hour meeting with BJP president Amit Shah ended in a fiasco, as both sides failed to find common ground on various issues.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti during a membership drive of the party in Jammu. (Photo: PTI)Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti during a membership drive of the party in Jammu. (Photo: PTI)

The PDP earlier demanded that J&K-specific “confidence building measures” be initiated by the Centre to create a congenial atmosphere for government formation. However, Mr Shah told Ms. Mufti a government can’t be formed on the basis of conditions. After that, both sides admitted that efforts to revive the coalition had hit a roadblock.

But despite the bitterness over the failed meeting between Mr Shah and Ms. Mufti, lines of communication remained open between the two sides. A series of meetings that PDP vice-president Muzaffar Hussain Baig and party’s chief negotiator and former finance minister Haseeb A. Drabu had with BJP leaders in New Delhi in the past three days paved the way for broader reconciliation between Ms. Mufti and Mr. Shah earlier on Tuesday. Later she was invited by the Prime Minister for a one-on-one meeting as an affirmation of mutual understanding, seemingly ending the deadlock over government formation.

Read: Mehbooba Mufti says not afraid of criticism for going ahead with BJP

Ms. Mufti described the meeting as ‘very positive’ and ‘good’ in addressing issues pertaining to the people of the State. Emerging after a 30-minute-long meeting with the Prime Minister, the PDP president said she had a ‘very positive meeting and a good meeting’ with him. She told reporters, "We’re seeing a stalemate for last two to three months over government formation in the state but today I’m satisfied. I’m very satisfied.". When asked if the stalemate has ended, she said, "When you meet the Prime Minister of the country, naturally the solution to the problems faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir is more clear".

Ms. Mufti said the ‘future course of action’ would be announced after her consultation with party legislators and other invitees to Thursday’s meeting. Echoing her, PDP chief spokesman Dr. Mehboob Beg said that her meeting with the Prime Minister was “very positive” and that “the future course of action regarding government formation would be decided at the legislature party meeting on Thursday.”

Mr. Beg in a statement here said, “Following the sad demise of our leader Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, the PDP had authorized the party president, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti to take a call on the party’s future course of action vis-à-vis government formation and her meeting with the Prime Minister today (Tuesday) and with BJP President, Mr Amit Shah earlier was a part of the same process.”

He confirmed Ms. Mufti would brief the legislators about her deliberations with the Prime Minister. “The party would announce its future course of action and the next step after its legislature party meeting which is the proper forum to take a call on such issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, regional Awami Itehad Party chief and independent MLA Sheikh Abdur Rashid has accused the PDP leadership of hurting the sentiments of people of the State and sacrificing its own self-respect to grab power. “Kashmiris are neither beggars nor wanted some meagre concessions from New Delhi but have been distancing from Sang Pariwar, for its agenda being anti-Muslim, communal and that of hatred (sic)”, he said.

Mr. Rashid said that Mr. Mufti was, as a face saving, expecting to persuade Mr. Modi to offer dialogue to Hurriyat Conference leadership for the permanent resolution of the dispute, talks on self-rule, and also an assurance that BJP will respect the special status including Article 370 and separate flag and separate constitution for the state “but the BJP has made her to have a shameless surrender and all her tall claims during last two months have dashed to earth”. He added, “She should have surrendered on the very first day after Mufti Sahib’s demise, rather making things suspicious and sensational for about two months”.

He asked the PDP president to explain what stopped her from going to fresh polls or having an alliance with secular forces, when everybody begged her for the same? “She needs to learn that battle is not about return of power projects, financial packages and other routine issues. Had these been the basic issues, then BJP should have been the better choice than other political parties for the people of J&K,” he asserted.

He further said, “Ms. Mufti should tell the people where did her so-called formula of self-rule disappear? People were expecting that she will rectify the huge mistakes committed by PDP leadership in the past and prefer to dissolve the Assembly but it is obvious that she had neither been sincere to people, nor to her own agenda”.

He alleged that talking about ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ (common minimum programme reached between the PDP and BJP for government formation last year) is a move to hide the failures and Mehbooba needs to understand that Kashmiris have rejected the so-called ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ from the day one as majority of the people of the State have very serious and basic concerns and reservations with the ideology and programs of the BJP”.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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