Keeping their cards close to their chest, the PDP and BJP, while maintaining that their alliance in Jammu and Kashmir will continue, put the onus on each other to take steps essential for the return of their government.
In her first public remarks on forming a government to end Governor’s rule imposed in the state after the death of her father and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed last month, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti set conditions for the BJP, saying the Centre must initiate J&K-specific confidence building measures (CBMs) to “create an atmosphere congenial for formation of the new government”.
Without going into details of what transpired at her meeting with Governor N N Vohra at the Raj Bhawan in Jammu, Mehbooba Mufti said: “Before a government is formed in coalition with the BJP, the Government of India should take certain J&K-specific CBMs to win over trust of the people so that the new government gets space to function. These CBMs should not be only Kashmir specific, but should also be related to Jammu and Ladakh regions.”
“Jammu and Kashmir is a different state, there are different challenges. In Jammu and Kashmir, there are several forces which need to be tackled. We need the Centre to be fully with us,” she said.
“I told the Governor that despite opposition, Mufti Sahib stitched an alliance with the BJP as he had a vision to take the state out of morass. Everybody including BJP was skeptical about it, but he went ahead since he had the welfare of the people and the state in his mind,’’ she said, adding that “Mufti Sahib used to say he was joining hands not with the BJP but billions of people of the country who had reposed faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
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“He (Sayeed) had a vision, experience and a lot of goodwill due to which he managed to deliver a lot during his ten-month government… I respect the commitment and vision of my father… I only want the Government of India to initiate state-specific CBMs to create an atmosphere congenial for formation of the new government.’’
Denying any differences with the BJP, she said her party wants an assurance about the implementation of the agenda of alliance not from the BJP but the Central government. “There are many challenges facing the state and the Central government needs to stand behind the new government like a rock,’’ she said.
A BJP delegation which also met the Governor — it included former Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, state party president Sat Sharma and MP Jugal Kishore Sharma — said it was for the PDP to make the first move. Nirmal Singh said delay in election of the PDP legislature party leader was coming in the way of government formation. The formal process between them, he said, will begin once they elect their legislature party leader.
Asked about Mehbooba Mufti seeking J&K-specific CBMs from the Centre ahead of government formation, Singh said nothing has formally come to them so far. All these things, he said, can come up for discussion once the PDP elects its legislature party leader.
The agenda of alliance, he said, was already there for government functioning and nothing new would be added to it.
Before meeting the Governor, Singh, who had returned from Delhi after talks with the BJP brass, had met Mehbooba Mufti at the state guest house where she had convened a meeting of her senior party leaders.
“Our coalition still exists… I hope government formation takes place soon. But there is no timeframe set for it so far,” he said.