Modi-Mehbooba talks positive; Government in J&k soon
New Delhi/Jammu, March 22 : Jammu and Kashmir is likely to have a new government as early as the next week that will end the two-month-old political stalemate in the state after Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti’s “positive” meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the capital on Tuesday.
As Mehbooba met the prime minister at his official 7 Race Course residence, a senior PDP leader and former minister Nayeem Akhtar said in Jammu that “hopefully “government should be in place by March 29”.
Mehbooba’s meeting with Modi came days after she flew back to Srinagar rather upset after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snubbed her over the PDP’s fresh conditions for continuation of the ruling alliance in the state, which has been without an elected government since Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed died on January 7.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, in charge of the party’s affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, said last week that his party would not be accepting any fresh demands and conditions from the PDP after Mehbooba’s meeting with BJP president Amit Shah failed to break the deadlock.
But on Tuesday she appeared upbeat, dropping hints that a new government in Jammu and Kashmir may be formed soon.
“It has been a positive meeting with the prime minister and I will go back to Srinagar and take the next step,” Mehbooba told the media as she emerged from Modi’s residence.
“I am content after meeting the prime minister. I feel positive after this meeting.”
Asked if she would be sworn in soon as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba replied, “I have been authorised to take the final call on the government formation and hold discussions regarding the issue by the party’s legislature party.”
She also said that she has called for a legislature party meeting on Thursday and will take further decision there. “There is a particular forum to make announcements. Everything can’t be announced here,” she said.
Asked if Modi gave any assurance regarding her party’s demands over government formation, Mehbooba said: “When you meet prime minister of the nation and discussions held are positive, then naturally we find more ways to the solutions of the problems faced by people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Mehbooba arrived in New Delhi on Monday in an indication that channels of communication with the BJP have been restored.
Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government after Mehbooba’s father, Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, died in a Delhi hospital and the state came under Governor’s Rule.
The PDP and BJP formed a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir in March 2015 after assembly elections threw up a fractured mandate.
Mehbooba has been dragging her feet over government formation in the state after her father’s death, and refused to take oath as the new chief minister till several demands made by the PDP were met by the BJP-led central government.
It was not immediately known what changed Mehbooba’s heart. However, there were reports that a group of defectors from the PDP was readying to support the BJP if Mehbooba did not relent from her apparently non-negotiable stand.
The defection threat reports came even as Jammu and Kashmir has the toughest anti-defection law in the country. No number of lawmakers can defect from a political party to claim a split, according to the law.
“Even if all the 27 MLAs of the PDP had chosen to defect, the president of the party could still write to the speaker of the legislative assembly declaring the breakaway group as defectors and seek action against them as per the provisions of the anti-defection law,” a constitutional expert said in Srinagar.