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Friday, January 8, 2016

Mehbooba being sworn-in as CM at SKICC today 

On Rajnath's advise, BJP decides to support Mehbooba's nomination; Ram Madhav to call on her in Srinagar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz 

JAMMU, Jan 7: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti’s swearing-in as Chief Minister did not materialise on Thursday following her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s funeral in hometown Bijbehara as the politician in a shock felt indisposed at her Srinagar residence. Now Governor Narendra Nath Vohra would give her oath of office and secrecy at SKICC in Srinagar on Friday, STATE TIMES learned from highly placed political and bureaucratic sources.

Immediately after some funeral rites were performed at Mufti's Fairview residence on Gupkar Road and the body was despatched for Bijbehara in a flower bedecked carriage following Namaaz-e-Janazah at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium Sonwar, Ms Mufti confined herself to her bedroom. She could not respond to scores of phone calls including two from very important quarters in New Delhi: One from President of India Pranab Mukherjee and another from BJP chief Amit Shah. 

"She is unwell and sleeping", both were told.

Sources in the PDP called it "strange and surprising" that the media and politicians were making her Chief Minister at a time when she was in "deep shock" and "indisposed". She didn't even visit her village after her father was laid to rest.

"I don't know how journalists are reporting that PDP handed over a letter of support in her favour to Governor when no such development has taken place", PDP General Secretary Nizamuddin Bhat told STATE TIMES. He insisted that as long as Ms Mufti was not well, nothing of it would be even discussed. "Thereafter a proper legislature party meeting will take place and it will be resolved, hopefully unanimously, that she should be sworn in as Chief Minister. We are likely to receive similar resolution from our coalition partner BJP by tomorrow. Thereafter, with Mehboobaji's consent, we will submit both letters to Governor", Mr Bhat said.

On the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s advise, BJP legislators held a meeting at Hari Niwas guesthouse in the afternoon on Thursday and decided unanimously to support Ms Mufti’s nomination as Chief Minister. Later, according to informed sources, PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Governor Narendra Nath Vohra met briefly at Srinagar airport. They were, sources said, unanimous that Governor's rule would have to be imposed in case the new Chief Minister could not be sworn in by 4.00 pm Friday.

While maintaining that much would depend on Ms Mufti’s health and inclination, sources said that BJP national general secret Ram Madhav would fly to Srinagar on Friday morning and call on Ms Mufti to extend his personal and his party's condolences on her father's demise. The two leaders are expected to discuss the oath-taking as well as constitution of the new Council of Ministers. It is widely speculated that Ms Mufti would choose her own team and reshuffle portfolios, though not more than three Ministers from each party could be dropped and replaced by new faces.

"If all went well, Ms Mufti could be sworn in as CM tomorrow and thereafter the members of her Council of Ministers could take oath in a few days in Jammu", said a highly placed political source. Commencement of the Legislature's Budget session on January 18th makes it necessary to form the new government in the next 10 days.

Meanwhile after returning to the winter capital from Srinagar this evening, Government Vohra is understood to have discussed formation of the new government and Friday's oath-taking ceremony with Chief Secretary BR Sharma and Principal Secretary to the former Chief Minister Bharat Bhushan Vyas.


[ Published in today's STATE TIMES ]

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