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Mehbooba’s silence adds to political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir

india Updated: Jan 11, 2016 20:11 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times
Mehbooba Mufti

Mehbooba Mufti’s silence kept suspense over the new state government after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7. (AP File Photo)

Jammu and Kashmir continued to be under governor’s rule and political uncertainty on Monday as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti refused to talk politics even at the end of the four-day mourning period for her father.

She kept to herself at her Gupkar home in Srinagar, a day after Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Union minister Nitin Gadkari called on her to offer their condolences on the death of her father, the late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who died in Delhi on January 7.

The meetings stoked speculations of a drift in the PDP-BJP alliance and possible political re-alignments in the state. Mehbooba’s silence added to the uncertainty while the PDP showed no signs of desperation to form a post-Sayeed government.

Mehbooba broke down while addressing party legislatures on Sunday evening where she recalled her father’s contribution to the state.

Sources said she assured party functionaries that the PDP “is in a strong position and there is no need to panic”. Other than that, she spoke little.

Read | Mehbooba Mufti strikes emotional chord with people at father’s grave

The situation in the party is said to be fluid because a section of leaders, upset over Sayeed’s alliance with the ideologically-opposite BJP, felt the current scenario has opened a window to get out of the coalition.

Some leaders felt that the ruling BJP at the Centre did not live up to the spirit of the alliance by delaying the state’s economic package and offering dismal financial support for flood relief, sources said.

Mehbooba too could be in a dilemma because breaking the alliance would mean dishonouring her late father, said a senior PDP leader who didn’t want to be named.

Officially, the PDP maintained no such issues have come up for discussion.

“Mehboobaji is not talking politics at all at this point. There is no renegotiation happening either from the PDP or BJP side,” said Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, who was Sayeed’s political adviser.

Read | Political buzz grows in Valley as Sonia drops in to see Mehbooba

BJP leader and deputy chief minister in the Sayeed government, Nirmal Singh, dismissed reports about the PDP trying to renegotiate terms of the alliance. “These are rumours. The PDP has not set any conditions,” he said.

Singh also downplayed Gandhi’s Sunday visit to Mehbooba’s home and the possibility of a PDP-Congress coalition. “The PDP has not said anything to us. So, speculating will not be right.”

But BJP legislator Ravinder Raina, who made headlines for assaulting Independent MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid inside the state assembly over the beef ban controversy, told a TV channel on Sunday that the party was renegotiating the terms and conditions of the alliance.

The channel said the PDP has set four new conditions, including doing away with the deputy chief minister’s post. Party leader Parra rejected the report, saying these were untrue.

Read | No threat to J-K coalition if Mehbooba becomes CM: BJP