A day after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) toughened its stand on forming a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the saffron party on Friday tried to bridge the gap by renewing contact with its alliance partner.
According to PDP sources, party president Mehbooba Mufti received calls from BJP leaders assuring her of their support as well as cooperation in the future.
“Informal contact was made but no formal talks on government formation took place,” said a senior PDP leader.
The PDP had on Thursday signalled that it wants fresh engagement on the ‘Agenda of Alliance’.
The PDP president, who is tipped to become the state’s first woman chief minister, did not come out to speak to the media, but insiders said it was only after her green signal that close aide Nayeem Akhtar has expressed his “displeasure about functioning of the coalition government in last nine months”.
“Mehboobaji has not met all legislators, she will take call only after meeting the party leaders,” Akhtar said. He further added that the PDP’s mission is to further the vision of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Although the BJP has been quashing speculation over realignment of political forces in the state, sources said the PDP’s tough stand has the party worried.
In a visit seen by many as a form of assurance from the Centre, Union finance secretary Ratan P Watal met Mehbooba on Thursday evening and “discussed allocation of funds for various development projects in the valley.” Watal is considered the architect of the Rs 80,000 crore development package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015.
Insiders said that Mehbooba is hinting at fresh engagement as she feels coalition partner BJP did not respect the terms of alliance by filing a public interest litigation against unfurling of the state flag, and other issues such as Article 370 and beef ban.
“She feels PDP did not negotiate well with BJP earlier and is losing mandate because of the lapses,” a source said. “She also feels BJP insulted her father by not allocating flood relief funds on time. Even when money was released, the flood relief was peanuts.”
Late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had at the time of the alliance said he had chosen to align with the BJP, which was in the power at the Centre, for “economic development of the state,” including relief and rehabilitation of the people affected in the September 2014 floods.
Meanwhile, a special prayer meeting was held at the grave of the former chief minister in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara town, where Mehbooba Mufti along with other PDP leaders converged at the grave in Dara Shikoh Park after Friday prayers.