Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti attended a Lok Sabha session on Tuesday, raising hopes that the lingering political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir after chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s death in January could end.
The 56-year-old leader landed in Delhi a day after the BJP-led Union government told alliance partner PDP that it was ready to walk the extra mile for the state, which has been under governor’s rule since her father’s death.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley assured impartial development of all three regions in the state: Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh. Besides, the Centre told governor NN Vohra not to finalise the state budget.
Jaitley’s assurance on Monday came at a time experts debated if the state assembly can be suspended six months after imposition of governor’s rule or the House can be dissolved six months from the day the legislature sat the last time.
“According to the J&K constitution, the governor will have to dissolve the assembly if no elected government is put in place by April 9. The six-month period starts from the last sitting of the legislature,” former advocate general Altaf Naik said.
The PDP was silent on Jaitley’s comments but senior leaders said in private that indications were positive. “There is movement on smart cities while the army and administration is discussing vacating land held by the defence forces,” a PDP leader said.
Mehbooba was the natural choice to take over the reins after Sayeed, whose death left behind a rocky coalition of ideologically-divergent partners. But she remained reluctant, apparently upset that her father died “a sad man”, regretting the unfulfilled promises made by the Centre.
“I am ready to burn my fingers but I will not burn them for nothing,” she told her supporters.
She hinted in February that she could snap ties with the BJP if the Centre didn’t announce confidence-building measures (CBMs) to end the political stalemate in the state.
She called for time-bound implementation of the agenda of alliance and assurances on niggling issues such as a political initiative to facilitate dialogues with separatists and withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and kill during counter-insurgency operations.
Mehbooba also wanted the army to vacate private and state properties occupied by the military and enhanced compensation to victims of the devastating 2014 floods.
But she recently indicated that she would give anything to keep her father’s commitment.
“The most important thing is there has been no note of discord heard anywhere, no BJP leader has said anything against the PDP leadership,” a senior PDP leader said.