From refusing an Islamic skullcap in 2011 to warmly hugging 14 Muslim ministers from a party that often veers towards soft separatism— the images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Jammu on Sunday were telling as the chalk-and-cheese PDP-BJP government was sworn in.
Modi displayed no displeasure on the state flag being placed in front of him instead of the tricolour while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took oath as Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir’s 12th chief minister.
The simmering polarisation and divergence on regional and religious lines was apparent in the oath drafts.
While most PDP leaders made their pledges in chaste Urdu with frequent references to Allah, the BJP legislators preferred Dogri and Hindi, most concluding with a chant of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. But the PM applauded every speech as he engaged in animated conversations with PDP leaders. Sayeed, 79, embraced Modi after taking oath during the ceremony that was held on a flower-decked stage at the Jammu University’s General Zorawar Singh auditorium amid tight security.
The BJP leaders swore allegiance to the state constitution, which the party’s founder member Shyama Prasad Mukherjee opposed in 1953 with the slogan “Ek vidhan, ek nishan aur ek samvidhan (one country, one emblem and one constitution”.
Mukherjee was arrested by the state’s Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah government in 1953 and died in a Jammu jail. The dais also saw a rare coming together of BJP veterans and the top brass, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Amit Shah and Shahnawaz Hussain.
They shared the stage with PDP stalwarts Mehbooba Mufti, Tariq Hameed Karra and Muzaffar Hussain Baig.
Joshi, who hit the headlines in 1992 when he hoisted the national flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk during the peak of militancy, was seen conversing with the mercurial Mehbooba Mufti – PDP’s president and the CM’s daughter.