While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti has regularly been dropping hints that she is ready to form the government with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the suspense over government formation continues in the state which is under Governor’s rule for almost two months.
On the one hand, Mehbooba has termed the decision of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to ally with BJP as irrevocable and “etched in stone” but on the other, she has shied away from taking over as the chief minister heading a PDP-BJP coalition.
In her recent speeches, it seems that Mehbooba and her party are still in a dilemma over government formation. For, whatever she says publicly, it is not an easy decision for her given the stand she took after her father’s death.
Following complete silence for the first few weeks, Mehbooba Mufti raised the bar for herself by placing some conditions before the BJP-led central government before a government could be formed in Kashmir. She spoke of political and economic steps that the Centre needs to take on Kashmir; she sought assurances and a timeframe from the PM and then from BJP President Amit Shah.
However, the BJP has not responded positively. There have been no assurances from either Modi or Shah and even the BJP state leadership has preferred silence in recent days.
Though the BJP, initially, showed keenness to form the coalition government with Mehbooba in the chair, the party now seems more comfortable with Governor’s rule in the state. Many political analysts feel that the BJP is getting more comfortable with this as the Centre has direct control of the state dispensation.
In recent days, Governor N N Vohra has taken certain decisions -– like the distribution of relief for 2014 flood victims, making Aadhaar based biometric attendance mandatory for government benefits and a major reshuffle in the civil and police administration — which are normally the prerogative of the political government. These can hurt the prospects of PDP in the state.
Under these circumstances, the PDP seems keen to form the government but it is a very difficult and tricky decision for Mehbooba Mufti: how is she to scale down her demands especially when the BJP hasn’t relented on any of them.
It seems that the Centre will have to take some steps, even cosmetic, if the BJP wants to form a coalition government with the PDP.