Expressing gratitude to the BJP for extending unconditional support to the PDP in forming the government in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, who is set to take over as the state’s first woman chief minister sometime next month, says that peace, reconciliation and development will be the main focus of her government.
“I would like to repeat that Mufti-sahib (her father, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, whose death in January necessitated a fresh alignment) had formed this coalition (with BJP) by respecting the mandate of 2014 Assembly polls, and also to preserve communal amity and brotherhood among people of different faiths in the state,’’ she said on Saturday.
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Accompanied by BJP legislature party leader Nirmal Singh, Mehbooba called on Governor N N Vohra at the Raj Bhavan in the afternoon and staked claim to form the government. Singh had handed over to Vohra his party’s letter of support to the PDP.
Mehbooba was accompanied by senior PDP leaders Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hamid Karra; Singh came alone to represent the BJP.
Mehbooba justified the time taken to arrive at the decision to form a coalition government with the BJP — an 11-week interval which saw tough negotiation between the allies, and talks seemingly reaching a breaking point before almost rising from the death. She said: “I am happy that in the last two-and-a-half months implementation of the Agenda of Alliance… has been reiterated by both sides… Also, I think the time taken by us to gain confidence and to restore trust in view of the vacuum created by Mufti-sahib’s death was worth it.”
Putting a government in place, however, may take nearly a fortnight still, as the two parties are yet to decide on a swearing-in date. “We need to discuss it with our alliance partner. We cannot take a unilateral decision,’’ Mehbooba said. “Dr Nirmal Singh and Muzaffar Baig will discuss and take a decision.”
She also dismissed reports that the allies are taking time to form the government due to differences over portfolio allocation, with the BJP reportedly insisting on Finance and Home, which were with the party in the Mufti government. “Portfolios which are with us are (also) of the BJP and those with the BJP are ours. There are no differences. It is a coalition government; we are not separate (entities),” Mehbooba said.
Pointing out that both parties will carry forward Mufti’s ‘Agenda of Alliance’ for development, peace and reconciliation in Jammu and Kashmir, she said “Where good governance is necessary, you also need to address issues politically, economically and socially…Jammu and Kashmir is faced with peculiar situations, which are unlike any other state.” Mehbooba also said that she is “satisfied” with the “reiteration” made by BJP about implementation of the Agenda of Alliance.
On her meeting with PM Narendra Modi in Delhi, Mehbooba said, “I am very satisfied (with) the reassurance I got from the Prime Minister. She added that Modi assured her that he will extend all support to “this government’’ on every issue to ensure there is peace and all-round development in the state.