More than three weeks after the death of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the stalemate over government formation in Jammu & Kashmir continued with the PDP and BJP hardening their stand on continuing their alliance.
After PDP leaders met in Srinagar on Sunday, for the second time after Mufti’s death on January 7, party chief Mehbooba Mufti broke her silence on the alliance, saying that “if the government is to be formed, the Centre has to address the core political and economic” issues.
Addressing her party’s leaders and legislators, Mehbooba also said — for the first time — that her father’s decision to ally with the BJP was an “unpopular” move. She accused the BJP of “overt and covert” sabotage and suggested that the PDP would have to “reassess” the coalition.
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In Delhi, a senior BJP leader said the party’s central leadership was “unimpressed” by the delay in government formation, and that it would harden its stance.
Mehbooba, meanwhile, said her party “can’t form the government just for the sake of power”.
“While real progress has been made towards good governance, there was little movement forward on the implementation of political and economic initiatives… Mufti sahib took a courageous though unpopular decision in the hope that the Central government will take decisive measures to address core political and economic issues. Unfortunately, certain quarters, both within J&K and in New Delhi, started overtly and covertly triggering frequent controversies,” she said.
“In this atmosphere, we will have to reassess whether we can absorb the shocks, which Mufti sahib had to do frequently… PDP will have to reassess whether the Central government is ready to trust the people of J&K and carry out implementation of Agenda of Alliance.”
Sources said that during the PDP meeting, some lower-rung leaders wanted the party to snap ties with BJP but some legislators argued against such a move.
Sources quoted senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig as saying that the party should let Mehbooba take the final call. Beig also told party leaders that the Opposition was creating an RSS scare in the valley. “When (NCP leader) Omar Abdullah himself was a minister (in the previous NDA government), he was silent on it,” Beig told leaders.
Dissident Tariq Hameed Karra, said to be “out of station” was the only senior leader to skip the Sunday meet held at the Muftis’ Fairview residence.
Sources added that the stalemate is likely to continue as there were “no hints or feelers” from BJP on assurances sought by the party.
In Dehi, a senior BJP leader said, “We are completely unimpressed by the way in which Mehbooba Mufti is handling matters. Why should the PDP ask for a reassurance now? In 10 months, Mufti sahib never sought any reassurance. She (Mehbooba) has not sat on the (CM’s) chair even for a day, but wants a reassurance?”
The leader added, “In that case, BJP should also have asked for some assurances from the PDP leadership. We do not know how Mehbooba would be working with the BJP. Our understanding was on the premise that Mufti is the Chief Minister.”
The PDP, meanwhile, has convened another meet on Monday for its legislators. “The legislature party is meeting on Monday,” said a senior leader. “The agenda is to discuss government formation. This will be first formal meet to discuss government formation in the backdrop of feedback received.”
BJP MP from the Jammu-Poonch Jugal Kishore Sharma said, “There has been an Agenda of Alliance worked out between both the parties for running the government and we still stick to it.”
(With inputs from ENS/Jammu)