PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti described her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “positive”.(Press Information Bureau)
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti described her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “positive”.(Press Information Bureau)

J-K govt formation: Meeting with PM Modi positive, says Mehbooba

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in a renewed bid to break the deadlock over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.
By Aurangzeb Naqshbandi | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 22, 2016 01:11 PM IST

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in a renewed bid to break the deadlock over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting at the PM’s 7 Race Course Road residence is said to be the final step to reconciliation between the BJP and the PDP.

“It was a good and positive meeting. I am satisfied now,” she told reporters after the meeting.

The PDP chief has called a meeting of her legislature party on Thursday to elect a new leader and discuss the government formation.

The ideologically opposite parties had forged an alliance in March last year and ruled the state for 10 months until the death of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.

Governor’s rule was imposed in J&K on January 8 and since then both the PDP and BJP have been negotiating new terms of engagement.

Mehbooba, 56, wants firm assurances from the NDA government on transfer of central power projects to J&K and time-bound implementation of the ‘Agenda for Alliance’, a governance framework established by the two sides.

The PDP chief, tipped to take over the reins of the coalition government, returned to Srinagar amid reports that her talks with BJP president Amit Shah had failed.

That was Saturday. Two days later, she returned to the national capital to give a final push to government formation in a meeting with the PM.

What prompted Mehbooba to meet the PM?

On March 7, Mehbooba had told party workers at Kupwara in north Kashmir that the “will” of her father to have an alliance with the BJP was “pather ki lakeer (carved in stone)”.

The remarks indicated that Mehbooba won’t go against her father and overturn his decision. Sayeed had gone against the tide and forged a coalition with the BJP though he had an unconditional offer of alliance from both the Congress and National Conference (NC) to form the government. The former CM had then equated his decision to go with the BJP to the bringing together of North Pole and South Pole, a move that enabled the BJP to be for the first time a part of any government in the Muslim-majority state.

There had been calls from within the PDP even during her father’s time to review the alliance with the BJP but Sayeed chose to ignore those.

Secondly, if there are snap polls at this juncture the PDP would be biggest loser given that her party’s popularity had declined since it joined hands with the BJP after recording a stupendous performance especially from the Kashmir valley in December 2014 assembly elections.

Political analysts had then attributed the huge voter turnout in the insurgency-hit Kashmir to the strong anti-BJP sentiment.

If elections are held now, the NC has a good chance to make a comeback within a year of being thrown out of power in the wake of strong anti-incumbency.

Thirdly, she is under pressure from her own party legislators as majority of them don’t want mid-term polls. Reports had suggested that a PDP section was in touch with BJP leaders and there could be a split in the party.

NC leader and former CM Omar Abdullah said it in as many words. “She rushed to Delhi in a last-ditch effort to save her party,” he said.

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