The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continued to keep its cards close to the chest, dismissing speculation that it might announce something on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir after its first formal legislative party meeting on Monday.
The party authorised its president Mehbooba Mufti to take a decision after governor NN Vohra prodded the PDP as well as alliance partner BJP to clarify their stands on ending the uncertainty.
The state has been under governor’s rule since the death of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 while daughter Mehbooba on Sunday sought definite assurances on tricky issues from the BJP as well as the Centre. Speculation swirled that the 10-month-old alliance could collapse after the PDP hardened its stand.
But on Monday, senior PDP leader Nayeem Akhtar said the party has put forth no demands and wanted no assurances. “We just want a sincere and honest follow-up of the agenda of alliance. The party has authorised Mehboobaji to convey the party’s point of view to the governor.”
BJP sources said they would wait for the PDP chief to take a call and would not buckle under any pressure from the ally. “Whatever will happen, will happen for good,” said Nirmal Singh, a BJP leader and former deputy chief minister in the Sayeed government.
Governor Vohra called Mehbooba and state BJP chief Sat Pal Sharma for separate meetings on Tuesday at the Raj Bhavan in Jammu.
Sources said the governor’s move came after Mehbooba told her party leaders and supporters that her father’s decision to align with the right-wing BJP was courageous, but unpopular.
“I am ready to burn my fingers but I will not burn them for nothing,” she told party leaders in a 45-minute speech on Sunday, her first fully political meeting after Sayeed’s death.
Mehbooba said she was ready to “go by her father’s decision even if it meant finishing off her political career”.
She also sent a clear message that she was in no hurry to form a government. “She said the government will be formed only when she is sure there is something good in it for the state as well as the country,” a PDP leader said.
Mehbooba was apparently upset that her father died “a sad man”, regretting the unfulfilled promises made by the Centre to the state. “Even in the hospital bed, he was asking me if the package has reached Kashmir,” she said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs 80,000-crore economic package to the state.
A three-member BJP delegation reached Delhi on Monday and discussed with senior party leaders, including its national general secretary Ram Madhav, the situation before meeting governor Vohra.
“We haven’t heard from anyone, not even the PDP, about attempts being made to sabotage the agenda of alliance. But if we get it in writing, it can be discussed,” BJP state president Sat Pal said in Jammu, responding to Mehbooba’s allegation that “certain quarters, both within the J&K and in New Delhi, had overtly and covertly triggered frequent controversies over avoidable contentious issues”.
Another BJP leader Ramesh Arora said that “nothing has changed” after the demise of Sayeed.
“We have assured Mehbooba Mufti of a full term. But if they are putting new conditions we can also think about rotational chief ministers.”