Decks were cleared for Mehbooba Mufti to become the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, as both PDP and BJP Friday cancelled separate meetings with Governor N N Vohra, and instead decided to call on him together to stake claim to form the government.
Mehbooba will also be the country’s first Muslim woman chief minister. BJP leader Nirmal Singh will be the deputy CM in the new government. Singh, a BJP MLA from Billawar, was the deputy CM in the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government as well.
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On Thursday, the PDP had chosen Mehbooba to lead its legislature party, while Singh had been re-elected as leader of the BJP legislature party on Friday.
Three senior leaders from each party, including Mehbooba and Singh, will jointly call on Vohra, possibly on Saturday. The PDP will stake claim to form the government in coalition with the BJP, which will hand the Governor a formal letter of support.
Following an invitation from the Governor, both PDP and BJP leaders were scheduled to meet him separately on Friday. But after discussions, both sides agreed to call on him jointly.
“Both party leaders will now meet him together, probably on Saturday,” BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said.
The swearing-in of the new government may take a week as many in the BJP believe the period before that is not auspicious. “I, too, have been given three auspicious dates by someone,” said Madhav, but added that it is for local leaders to take a final call.
“The government formation by PDP and BJP is going to take place. But before meeting the Governor, both parties will meet to finalise modalities. Last time, we discussed everything in Delhi and came here to form the government. But this time, we decided to let all these things be finalised here, as the people here have to run the government,” Madhav said.
Earlier, pointing out that their legislature party has unanimously decided to support PDP, state BJP president Sat Sharma said, “We have to discuss certain issues and finalise the modalities before visiting the Governor with a formal letter of support. It may take two-three days… it takes time to form the government.”
Sources said distribution of key portfolios like Home and Finance is one of the issues the BJP wants to settle with the PDP before visiting the Governor.
Sharma also said there has been no change in the alliance agenda. “It is just a continuation of the process that started a year earlier,” he said.