PDP may get first shot at CM?s post in J&K

  • Anil Anand, PTI, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Jan 08, 2003 22:08 IST

The Congress and the PDP got back to the negotiating table to discuss the modalities for a coalition in Jammu and Kashmir. On Friday, both parties tried to chalk out a common minimum programme (CMP) for the new government.

Sources said the contours of an emerging pact indicate that the chief minister's post may be rotated with the PDP likely to get the first shot, perhaps for a year or two.

A clear picture will emerge only on Saturday after a second round of talks between PDP chief Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Congress leaders Manmohan Singh and Arjun Singh, and later with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Arjun Singh said talks with the Mufti on Friday night were "exclusively" limited to discussing the CMP and there were "no hiccups". He said the leadership issue would be settled when the Mufti meets Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.

Congress leaders pressed the PDP not to insist on the CMP incorporating controversial portions of its manifesto such as suspension of anti-terrorist operations by special operations groups  and unconditional talks with militants.

Parleys to break the deadlock began with the Mufti, who arrived here from Srinagar on Friday evening, calling up senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh, from where he drove to Singh's house.

Shortly before the talks began, Mufti struck an optimistic note by likening the difficulties to "birth pangs".

"Being a national party, the Congress has national concerns. We are a regional platform having regional aspirations. We will certainly iron out (the problems) and find a way out," he said.

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