It''s a battle of principles, says PDP
19 October 2002
The Times of India
SRINAGAR: The PDP on Saturday showed no signs of backing off from its claim to the chief minister''s post in Jammu and Kashmir even as the Congress deputed Manmohan Singh to mediate between the two warring parties. Stepping up the pressure on the Congress, PDP Vice-President Mehbooba Mufti said, ''Congress should understand that the alliance can get going once someone from the PDP is appointed as the chief minister.'' She said her party was in favour of settling the issues through dialogue but was unaware what the Congress would do next to solve the impasse. Mehbooba said this was not a fight between PDP President Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Congress chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, but a battle based on principles. ''Let me make it clear that Congress should understand that PDP has been given the mandate in the Valley against National Conference and should be allowed to serve the people,'' she said. She alleged that the Congress was spreading rumours about its staking claim to form government which leaves the independents, whose support is crucial for government formation, vulnerable to horse trading. The PDP vice-president said, ''Congress should come and hold talks and stop making claims and adopting a one- sided approach in resolving the crisis.'' The Congress, on its part, decided to send senior leader Manmohan Singh to Srinagar on Sunday to hold talks with PDP President Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on firming up a coalition government in the state. A decision to this effect was taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Delhi after consultations with senior party leaders including J&K PCC President Ghulam Nabi Azad, party General Secretary Ambika Soni told reporters here. The decision of the Congress high command came a day after Sayeed hardened his stand on the issue of chief ministership asserting that the PDP would firm up an alliance with other political parties only at its own terms or might sit in the Opposition. Soni said the party President decided to send Singh for continuing the process of consultations on the issue of formation of a coalition Government. ''Our main objective is to consolidate the mandate of the people. It should not be frittered away'', she said. Besides holding talks with the PDP president, Singh would also be interacting with leaders of all other non-National Conference and non-BJP parties including independents, she said.