As Sonia Gandhi, Nitin Gadkari meet Mehbooba Mufti; suspense continues over govt formation

The meeting is seen as politically significant as BJP, an ally of PDP, has yet not officially extended support to Mehbooba for the Chief Ministership after Mufti's demise.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: January 11, 2016 7:48 am
sonia gandhi, mehbooba mufti Congress has earlier shared power with PDP between 2002 and 2008, with both parties having their Chief Minister on rotational basis after three years.

While the PDP remained silent on the formation of government in J&K, top central leaders of both the BJP and Congress met party chief Mehbooba Mufti at her residence in Srinagar on Sunday.

A Congress team led by party president Sonia Gandhi, and senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, separately met Mehbooba at her Fairview residence in Srinagar.

Read Also: No word from PDP-BJP, Governor’s rule in J&K

While Sonia, who was accompanied by party leaders Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad and state Congress leaders, was silent on the meeting, Gadkari said that “they (the BJP) will try to fulfil the dreams” of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

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“The dreams he had and about which our government had assured him, we will definitely try to fulfil them,” Gadkari told reporters later. He said he had come, on behalf of his government and party, to offer condolences to Mehbooba.

“I believe this is not a day to talk about politics,” he said.

Sonia was first to arrive at Mehbooba’s residence in the afternoon and meet her. The meeting lasted for around 20 minutes. While Sonia didn’t talk to reporters, Azad said they had “come only for condolences”.

In fact, Sonia also visited Mufti twice at AIIMS, where he was admitted, and Azad was present for funeral prayers both in Srinagar and Bijbehara, where Mufti was buried.

In her condolence letter to Mehbooba, Sonia described Mufti as a leader who symbolised the “best human values”. “Mufti sahib left us too suddenly, but he will live in our individual and collective memories. He will live as an example of the finest composite traditions of J&K , and the country,” she said in the letter. She said Mufti “cut across party lines” and “belonged to everybody”.

After Sonia’s visit, Gadkari arrived along with former deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh and BJP state president Sat Sharma. The meeting between Gadkari and Mehbooba, too, lasted around 20 minutes.

During both meetings, Mehbooba was not accompanied by any party leader, sources said. They said the BJP has been unnerved by Congress’s warming up to the PDP. Sources in the PDP, however, said that the talk about any possibility of an alliance with Congress was “far-fetched”.

“In the past four days, all our leaders have been in mourning. Mehbooba ji hasn’t even come out of her room. There haven’t been any political discussions in the party,” said a PDP leader. “Mufti sahib had taken a decision and we all respect that decision.”