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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

BJP in the dark as Mehbooba holds everything to her chest

Ram Madhav holds meeting with BJP legislators in Jammu

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 12: With nobody discussing politics in the PDP camp and the bereaved Mehbooba Mufti holding everything to her chest, BJP continues to be groping in the dark with ragard to the prospects of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since the day of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death on January 7th, none of her political colleagues has mustered courage to discuss the political issue of the government formation with Ms Mufti. Few of her guests who called on her with a political agenda, including a high level bureaucratic team led by Chief Secretary B.R. Sharma and BJP's J&K incharge Ram Madhav, returned upset as Ms Mufti told them categorically that there would be nothing political during the mourning period post her father's death.

Neither of them did even ask if the mourning period would be over with the official ritual on the 7th day or would run according to the religious practice till 15th or 40th day. And when the party spokesman Mehboob Beg was quoted by news agencies and television channels as saying that Ms Mufti's oath-taking would take place immediately after the 7th day, he was rebuked for "exceeding your brief".

Beg told STATE TIMES that he wanted to say nothing beyond the fact that Ms Mufti would discuss the government formation with her party leaders, legislators and workers only after the mourning period was over at her home. "I said only this much that after her deliberations with the cadres, following the end of the mourning period, Madam would take the final call. But unfortunately a section of the media quoted me as saying that Ms Mufti’s oath-taking would take place in the next 24 hours. How could I give a timeframe when neither the mourning period is over nor has there been any discussion on political issues in the PDP?", Dr Beg asserted.

"As of now, there's absolutely no political activity in PDP or at Mufti Sahab's residence. It's a solemn and sombre ambience and everybody calls on the bereaved family only to offer condolences", Dr Beg said.

According to the family sources, just a few of the PDP leaders, like Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Naeem Akhtar and Altaf Bukhari, have been able to see Ms Mufti and they all avoided discussing politics with her. Among others, only her maternal uncle Sartaj Madni, Mufti's close relative and MLA Syed Farooq Andrabi and her aide and nominated MLA Anjum Fazili have had access to the bereaved party President.

One of the senior leaders said on condition of anonymity that the government formation "if at all it happens with BJP" could take two or three weeks from now. "As of now, nobody in PDP is on record to say that the party would yet again form the government with BJP. Even the possibility of fresh elections does exist at this stage as nobody knows what would be the final call of the President", he said. He, however, ruled out possibility of a coalition with Congress or NC.

In Jammu, BJP camp witnessed some activity on Tuesday as the two leaders from the party high command, namely Ram Madhav and Avinash Rai Khanna, appeared in the winter capital and held a meeting with their State leaders and legislators at the former Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s house. The participants discussed prospects of BJP's forming the government with its former coalition partner besides the senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's clarification that Sonia Gandhi or her party had no ambition or intention to form the coalition with PDP.

The meeting, according to sources, discussed BJP's demand of rotational Chief Minister and two more Cabinet berths. However, it was decided that only the party high command would take a decision whether to press such demands with PDP or not.

After the meeting concluded, the BJP Central leaderd told journalists that their party would respond to the PDP communication only after it elected a leader and conveyed it to the former coalition ally BJP. They asserted that there was no difference of opinion with PDP but the process of the government formation had got delayed as the PDP was still in the mourning and it was yet to choose its leader.


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