Despite rumours, BJP’s exit caught Mehbooba Mufti by surprise, say PDP leaders

Mehbooba Mufti was busy handling files at her office in the civil secretariat when she was told of the BJP’s decision to pull out from the Jammu and Kashmir government

india Updated: Jun 19, 2018 19:36 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Mehbooba Mufti,BJP,PDP
Mehbooba Mufti resigned as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir after the BJP ended their alliance with her Peoples Democratic Party on Tuesday.(PTI File Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to exit the Jammu and Kashmir government apparently came as a big surprise to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders and government officials said.

Mehbooba, who soon resigned as chief minister, was busy handling files at her office in the civil secretariat when she was told of her erstwhile ally’s decision. People familiar with the matter said it was the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary who broke the news.

Rumours of an exit had started spreading right from Monday evening when all the BJP ministers were called to New Delhi for a meeting with party president Amit Shah. However, both the PDP and BJP leaders had brushed aside questions on the government possibly falling as speculation.

Soon after Mehbooba heard the news, she asked her private secretary, Hashmat Ali Khan, to call three PDP ministers to her chambers. The first to arrive was minister for rural development and Panchayati Raj, Abdul Rehman Veeri, the legislator from south Kashmir’s Bijbharea constituency and the seniormost PDP minister in the government.

And after a brief meeting with the ministers, Mehbooba left for her official residence at Gupkar. Many senior ministers followed. By then the news had gone public.

Also read: Live updates of J-K political developments

The PDP leadership crafted a strategy for the party’s response to the withdrawal of support. Mehbooba then faxed her resignation to Governor Narendra Nath Vohra from her residence.

A legislator from north Kashmir, who was in the chief minister’s office when the news was delivered, said it came as a total surprise. “The chief minister was busy giving assurances to us. There was not an iota of any doubt that the BJP would pull out from the government and neither was such an atmosphere prevalent at the CM’s office. The chief minister even gave me an assurance about our developmental projects,’’ the legislator, who declined to be identified, told the Hindustan Times.

An official at the CM’s office said earlier in the day, Mehbooba had been busy with routine work and met some delegations. “The decision took everybody by surprise as nobody had imagined the government would fall like this.”

A senior PDP leader close to Mehbooba also confirmed that the party leadership and the chief minister had no inkling that the BJP would withdraw its support despite Monday’s rumours. “For all of us, it was a big surprise. Only ten days ago, the J&K chief minister had a detailed meeting with the Union Home Minister,’’ he said.

First Published: Jun 19, 2018 17:23 IST