January 2016 News

PDP Sheds Tough Posturing, To Go Along With BJP

17 January 2016
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: The PDP on Sunday shed its tough posture on forming a government with BJP in Jammu & Kashmir, describing the 'agenda of alliance', the pact on governance reached between the two parties last year, as the 'holy scripture' while also citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lahore initiative as 'a welcome step' for normalizing ties between India and Pakistan. The development could now clear the decks for the swearing in of PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The willingness of the two partners to adhere to the governance agenda and the Prime Minister's bid to push the peace initiative with Pakistan are seen as factors that helped the PDP make up its mind after several days of political posturing following the death of its patriarch and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7. While PDP's stand is also not a surprise as any alternate alliance is an arithmatic challenge can come at the cost of Hindu representation from Jammu, the final decision to 'authorise' PDP leader and Mufti's daughter Mehbooba Sayeed to take a call is an anti-climax after some pre-emptive bargaining that was seen to be aimed at gaining a free hand in running the administration. After a marathon meeting of PDP's extended core group that lasted for five hours at party chief Mehbooba Mufti's Gupkar Road residence here, spokesperson Naeem Akhtar said the leaders had authorized her to take a final call on government formation. Sources said at the meeting, the first after the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, many leaders favoured continuance of alliance with the BJP. Akhtar said at the meeting, the PDP leaders appreciated Prime Minister's push for normalization of ties with Pakistan, particularly his Lahore initiative. He said Mehbooba welcomed Modi's gesture of landing in Lahore on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's birthday. 'Despite Pathankot attack, it is a welcome step that the dialogue (between India and Pakistan) is continuing,' Akhtar quoted Mehbooba as having said. The easing of stance can also be a reflection of the PDP leadership's assessment that it had played sufficiently 'tough' with BJP in the context of its support in the Kashmir Valley where the Pakistan initiative is also expected to play out well. Noting the achievements of Mufti's ten-month rule, Akhtar said: 'We discussed the vision and legacy of our late patron and it was his wish that good relations between India and Pakistan mean a stable J&K.' To a pointed query whether PDP will continue to be in government with BJP, Akhtar said the leaders have reposed trust in the PDP president and she will take the final call on the subject. However, giving enough hints on continuance of alliance with BJP, Akhtar said the PDP leaders were working on how to move ahead on Agenda of Alliance. As the PDP and the BJP, which ruled the state in an alliance from March 1 till Sayeed's death, did not stake claim for fresh government formation, the state was put under Governor's rule on January 8. The BJP has maintained that the PDP has to make the first move by electing its legislature party leader before they can extend support to the regional party for government formation in the state. Till a couple of days ago, the PDP had said it would review the implementation of Agenda of Alliance during the 10-month coalition before deciding its next course of action.

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