February 2016 News

BJP, PDP To Begin Talks Over Government Formation In March

27 February 2016
India Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: As quiet dialogue between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is going on for past two weeks, the leaders from both the parties are expecting that the government formation would not take long now. PDP leaders say government formation would take place in the first fortnight of March. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti after a surprise one-one meeting with the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav at her residence on February 17 has sent two leaders of the party to Delhi for dialogue with the BJP. Former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and former advisor to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Amitabh Mattoo are camping in New Delhi to take dialogue on the Agenda of Alliance, which remained the basis for the nine-month coalition government of the PDP and BJP, to the next level. 'So, we are not seeking anything which is unconstitutional or unIndian. We will form an alliance to achieve something not to surrender dignity of Kashmir,' a senior PDP leader said. Drabu has met BJP President Amit Shah and held deliberations with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He is expected to meet PM Narendra Modi in the coming days after which the government formation in the restive state would take a formal shape, sources said. While Mattoo has visited JNU to ensure that Kashmiri students studying there should not be harmed. And Mehbooba has asked Mattoo to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh in case he feels Kashmiri students are being harassed. 'We are not seeking anything beyond the Agenda of Alliance. We are only asking for a time-bound implementation of the assurances mutually agreed in the Agenda of Alliance,' a senior party leader said. Incidentally, in her first public address on February 21 after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Mehbooba tried her best to reach out to New Delhi, praising Modi for his surprise visit to Pakistan. Though she talked about reconciliation with Pakistan as a necessity for peaceful J&K, she tried to convey that her party was different from the National Conference. She criticised National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah for not remaining steadfast after supporting Accession of J&K to India in 1947. 'Sheikh took a decision in 1947 but then didn't remain committed to it... My father always took difficult decisions but whenever he took the decision he never regretted it or took a U-turn,' Mehbooba said, clarifying that her party would not be the first to break the alliance. Her speech is seen as integrationist, one in which she almost toed the BJP's line even over JNU protests, saying the issue should be left to courts to decide and political parties should remain away from it.

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