CHIEF MINISTER Mehbooba Mufti was caught off guard by the BJP’s decision to pull out of the coalition government. She was in her office at the civil secretariat on Tuesday when she received a call from the Governor’s office. Around the same time, J&K Chief Secretary Bharat Bhushan Vyas broke the news to her.
“She was in her office looking at the files that had stacked up. Although the party was aware of the BJP ministers’ meeting in Delhi, there was no apprehension that the party would withdraw support. They didn’t drop any hint about this,” a senior PDP minister told The Indian Express. While some of the PDP ministers were at the civil secretariat, others were busy in meetings.
A senior PDP leader said that as soon as she got the news, Mehbooba called some senior party leaders to her office. “There was a brief discussion after which the Chief Minister left for her residence,” he said.
Mehbooba called a meeting of senior party leaders and ministers at her residence. She then faxed her resignation letter to Governor N N Vohra, and addressed a press conference.
In Delhi, senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta said his party ministers had sent their resignations to the Chief Minister. But PDP sources said they hadn’t received any information from the BJP, and some of the leaders learnt about the development through television channels.
However, a senior PDP minister claimed they had prior information that the BJP would pull out of the government. “The message had already gone to several quarters. We were ready for this,” he said. “We too could have withdrawn but we didn’t want to give the impression that Kashmiris are only fair weather friends”.
Saying there were several reasons for differences between the two coalition partners, he said one main factor was that BJP wanted to have a muscular policy in Kashmir.