Suspense on J&K govt formation continues

Suspense on J&K govt formation continues

Sonia, Gadkari meet Mehbooba; no clear picture yet

Suspense on J&K govt formation continues

Political suspense continued over formation of a new government in Jammu and Kashmir as Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari separately called on Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti here on Sunday.

Sonia, who reached the Gupkar residence of Muftis to offer condolences, had a short closed door meeting with Mehbooba. The meeting assumes political significance as reports emerged that the PDP and the BJP are bargaining a fresh political deal.

Jammu and Kashmir has been placed under Governor’s Rule since Friday evening as Mehbooba, who was supposed to take oath as chief minister declined to do so till end of the fourth day mourning period of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. As the mourning period ended on Sunday, there were still no indications from either the PDP or its partner BJP that a new government would be installed in the state anytime soon.

The delay has set off a new political stalemate and Sonia’s visit has added to speculations that the PDP has a change of heart. Mufti headed a PDP-BJP coalition that formed the government last year in March till his death on January 7.

However, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, who accompanied Sonia, said it was only a visit to pay condolences. “No politics was discussed. The Congress has a long association with her (Mehbooba’s) family,” he told reporters. Gadkari, who visited Mehbooba immediately after Sonia left, said the BJP and the PDP will together fulfil the late Mufti’s vision for the state.

Talking to reporters after meeting Mehbooba, he said, “It is no time to talk politics. I have come here to convey condolences on behalf of the central government.”

Earlier senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh, who was deputy Chief Minister in Mufti-led government said his party will take a call on government formation once they receive formal communication from PDP.  He hoped that the two parties will proceed on from where they left.

“We have already communicated to the governor in reply to his letter that our party will take a call on government formation once we receive any communication from PDP,” Singh said while replying to a query from reporters if BJP had any objection in Mehbooba succeeding her father as chief minister.

Meanwhile, a meeting of PDP legislators was held at Mehbooba’s residence in which some important decisions related to the government formation and party matters were expected to be taken.

Sources told Deccan Herald that Mehbooba has set tough conditions for the BJP if they want to continue the alliance.