Senior BJP leaders will meet PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar on Monday in what is being seen as the first serious shot by the two parties at reviving a joint government in Jammu and Kashmir.
The state has been under governor’s rule since the death of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed last month. His daughter Mehbooba refused to succeed him, unhappy with the way the coalition had worked over the past nine months.
Monday’s meeting, coinciding with the end of the 40-day mourning for Sayeed, is likely to be attended by BJP state president Sat Sharma and former deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, source said. It wasn’t immediately clear if party general secretary Ram Madhav or Union minister Jitendra Singh would attend.
As the BJP’s in-charge of the state, Madhav’s presence in the meeting is seen as crucial. If the meeting is successful then Mehbooba will likely meet BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi before formally announcing the formation of the government before end-February.
“BJP leaders have sought time for a meeting in the evening,” senior PDP leader Nayeem Akhtar told Hindustan Times without giving any names.
Initially, the PDP had cited the customary mourning period for the delay in deciding on continuing with the alliance with the BJP. But soon it was clear Mehbooba was unhappy with the coalition itself, reflecting the reservations of a section of the party.
She then called for “confidence building measures” from the BJP, including steps to implement an ‘Agenda of Alliance’ before taking a call on the partnership. She also said she was unwilling to come into office with “empty coffers”.
BJP state spokesman Sunil Sethi said Monday’s talks were the “first formal meeting on government formation” after the end of the 40-day mourning.
Killing of civilians in the state as well as a growing controversy at the Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU) University involving Kashmiri protests have added to worries over talks between the BJP and PDP.
“Unfortunate things are happening in the state… It can cast a shadow on the decision to form the government,’’ a PDP leader said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
As the political stalemate drags, state governor NN Vohra has appointed two former civil servants as advisors to help with running the government. He also asked all political appointees of the previous PDP-BJP government to resign, a move aimed at giving the new government a say in the appointments.
Among the first to resign was advocate general Jahangir Iqbal Ganai.