J-K: Mufti to head 25-member cabinet; PM Modi to attend swearing-in
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J-K: Mufti to head 25-member cabinet; PM Modi to attend swearing-in

PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed will head a 25-member cabinet, half of it from BJP, in Jammu and Kashmir and the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday in Jammu will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2015 00:13 IST
HT Correspondent and PTI
HT Correspondent and PTI
Hindustan Times
Mufti Mohammed Sayeed,Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Jammu and Kashmir

PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed will head a 25-member cabinet, half of it from BJP, in Jammu and Kashmir and the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday in Jammu will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With the PDP-BJP deal sealed after ironing out differences over contentions issues like Article 370 and AFSPA, 79-year-old Sayeed, who will be sworn in as chief minister, met the Prime Minister on Friday, capping two-month long hard negotiations between the two parties on government formation.

Sayeed will take oath as CM for a six-year-term – his second stint – on Sunday. “I have invited the PM to attend the ceremony and he has agreed,” he said after the 90-minute meeting with Modi at the latter’s 7, RCR residence.

Along with Sayeed, 12 ministers from both parties are expected to take oath. PDP sources said academician Amitabh Mattoo could be inducted as a representative of the Kashmiri Pandit community.

According to highly-placed sources, Sayeed's cabinet will have 12 BJP MLAs including a deputy chief minister post. This is the first time that BJP is in the government in the state.

Separatist-turned-politician Sajjad Ghani Lone is unlikely to make the cut immediately.

Accompanied by chief interlocutor of PDP Haseeb Drabu, Sayeed had a nearly one-hour long meeting with Modi during which he extended invitation to the PM for attending the swearing-in ceremony at Jammu on March one.

Modi and Sayeed were all smiles as they hugged and posed for cameras with their photographs trending on social networks within minutes.

Video: PDP's Mufti Sayeed meets Modi, invites him for swearing-in ceremony

He refused to answer any specific questions on controversial issues like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or Article 370 and said the Common Minimum programme (CMP) will be announced at 3pm on Sunday.

He said a lot of discussions have taken place for the past two months to forge a common ground, a common agenda. He equated the PDP-BJP coalition with "bringing together of North Pole with South Pole".

"The mandate of election is clear that PDP is the choice of people in Kashmir and BJP in Jammu. So we decided that we will unite together to give a government which will give all round development to all the regions in the state," he said.

"It was discussed how a stable government should be formed. The PDP was of the view that we should not allow the opportunity to go waste as it was a historic opportunity with the government at the Centre that has a clear mandate of people to deliver," he said.

Sayeed, who will be returning to power after a gap of more than nine years, backed Modi's slogan, saying, "I also want Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas (development for all)." He was the Chief Minister of the state from November, 2002 to 2005.

When asked about Article 370 which gives special status to the state and AFSPA, Sayeed said: "Leave these issues.

These are not issues. We have to do all this (hame karna padta hai)...All this will come in the Common Minimum Programme which will be announced after the swearing-in."

Asked whether PDP was joining NDA at the Centre, Sayeed said, "it is too early to say that. Ministers will be decided soon. We have found common ground."

The common minimum programme, which is to shape the agenda of the alliance, may be made public on Sunday after two months of negotiations. The document has to sidestep ideological differences between the two parties over contentious issues such as Article 370 that gives special status to the state and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which accords overriding powers to the military.

“There has been no compromise. Both diametrically-opposite parties have arrived at a common ground on contentious issues,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said.

To a question whether the CMP was for governance or for political alliance, he said, "It (the alliance) is both for political and governance. First political and then governance. When political atmosphere will be right then only governance will take place."

Questioned whether it is a tough road ahead, Sayeed said, "I think it is alright. The PM also has a vision. I think he also understands that it (the alliance) has to be made to work."

"Both regions (Kashmir and Jammu) should be brought together. On external dimension (mending ties with Pakistan), policy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee should be carried forward. Modiji has agreed," he said.

The PDP patron said he aims to give a "healing touch" as anguish in one part of the huge country is not a good thing.

"My view was that an opportunity has come that Jammu region and Kashmir region will come together. If BJP got mandate in Jammu and PDP in Kashmir Valley, therefore they have got support of people. There is credibility. When they will merge, it will be dejure. It takes six hours from Jammu to the Valley, but opportunity is there to connect hearts and minds of people," he said.

Sayeed said second aspect is when former Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Kashmir in 2002-03, he started a journey of friendship in Srinagar.

"He extended a hand of friendship towards Pakistan, saying we can change friends but not our neighbours. So (the then Pakistan President Pervez) Musharraf also responded. It is the dream of the Prime Minister and mine to develop Kashmir as an 'island of peace'. So, in that process, it is necessary to engage Pakistan," he said.

"....so I want to repeat history. Today, the Prime Minister has mandate of the people. He has got full legitimacy to deliver," he said.

The December 23 election results saw a highly-fractured mandate with PDP emerging as single-largest party with 28 MLAs followed by BJP with 25. Erstwhile allies National Conference and Congress ended with 15 and 12 seats respectively.

BJP and PDP, which have been in negotiations for nearly two months now, have sorted out all the differences over Article 370, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, resettlement of West Pakistan Refugees and holding of talks with Pakistan and separatist leaders of the state.

Sayeed and his daughter, party chief Mehbooba Mufti, finalised portfolios with senior BJP leaders, including Ram Madhav and Union minister Jitendra Singh. The CM-designate formally staked claim to form the government in a letter to governor NN Vohra.

“The mandate of the election is clear. The PDP is the choice of the people in Kashmir and the BJP in Jammu. So we decided to unite and give a government that will provide all-round development to all regions,” Sayeed said, calling the coalition a coming together of the north and south poles.

First Published: Feb 27, 2015 10:47 IST