Jammu-Kashmir Chief Minister Sayed Mohammad Mufti’s death has cast a shadow of doubt on the future of the PDP-BJP alliance in the state. The People’s Democratic Party has kept BJP waiting even after the seven-day mourning period has ended. The assembly has been dissolved and both parties refuse to comment on the formation of the government. Mufti’s daughter Mehbooba Mufti is widely expected to take over as chief minister, but so far she hasn’t commented on the status of her party’s ties with the BJP.
Parties need to touch the 44 seats mark to stake claim for forming the government. The PDP-BJP combine so far has 52 seats, excluding the seat that fell vacant on account of Mufti’s death.
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On Sunday, when PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti walked into the room of her Srinagar residence where she was to chair a meeting of her party’s core group, accompanying her was her younger brother, Tassaduq Hussain Mufti. While many party leaders were surprised to see the cinematographer-son of former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, especially since he had so far maintained that he had no interest in politics, Mehbooba began the meeting by introducing her brother.
Keeping the BJP waiting, the PDP has authorised its president Mehbooba Mufti to take a final call on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.
On Sunday, the PDP held its first formal meeting since the death of its patron and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at the AIIMS in New Delhi on January 7. Party sources indicated they are ready to continue their alliance with the BJP but the final decision is still awaited.
“The agenda of alliance is a sacred document for us,” senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar told reporters after a five-hour meeting at the Fairview residence of the Muftis.
A day after his father Farooq Abdullah’s comments on a tie-up with the BJP, former CM Omar Abdullah said people should avoid “speculation”.
“All he has said is that if any proposal comes from BJP it will be discussed by Working Committee of the party for a decision,” Omar tweeted. “So please resist speculation.”
“The audio clip of what my father has said is very clear. Please listen to it before arriving at any conclusions,” he tweeted. “It’s the most reasonable response you can expect. He hasn’t sought an alliance nor assured any support…”
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.