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Monday, January 18, 2016

Naeem Akhtar throws PDP's first hardball with Mehbooba's OK

'Retrun power projects to J&K, hold talks with separatists'

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 14: Eight days after the party patron and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death, Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday threw its first hardball on the coalition ally BJP as the Muftis' confidante and former high profile Education Minister Naeem Akhtar asserted that PDP would examine its profit and loss statement of the last 10 months before forging a fresh ruling alliance with BJP.

In Srinagar, Akhtar called select TV channels to his residence and stated that PDP would review its coalition with BJP after examining its achievements and deficit of the 10-month-long rule before forming a new government with BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. In an unmistakably sulking tone, Akhtar mentioned the coalition's commitments logged in the "Agenda of Alliance" and complained that most of the promises made to his party had remained unfulfilled.

Akhtar particularly made a mention of the BJP's commitment of handing over the NHPC power projects to the State government, announcement of Smart Cities, vacating of the lands occupied by the Central armed forces besides "addressing the internal dimension of the Kashmir problem"----euphemism for holding a dialogue with the Valley’s separatist leadership.

Source well-connected with PDP insisted that Akhtar’s assertions, which constitute a significant policy statement, came only with the PDP President's approval. Party’s designated spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg is understood to have been barred from issuing statements and reactions to the media after his claiming that PDP-BJP coalition would be in place with Mehbooba as Chief Minister "within 48 hours" after the mourning would be over. Till late on Thursday night, nobody in PDP disowned or amended Akhtar’s statement.

Significantly, Akhtar described "Agenda of Alliance" as a "sacred document" for his party but asked where was this and where was that. During his visit to Srinagar, days before Mufti's death, union Power Minister Piyush Goyal had categorically told mediapersons that the Centre would not hand over any of its power projects to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. Akhtar said that with regard to vacating the lands occupied by the Central armed forces, just a "positive beginning" had been made with the Army’s announcement that it would vacate Srinagar’s encampment of Tatoo Ground where Mufti announced to lay a public park.

Understandably, the most ticklish issue for the BJP would be PDP's insistence on initiating a dialogue with the Kashmiri separatists more so in an ambience of hostility arising out of the Pathankot between New Delhi and Pakistan.

Tightlipped and still in the mourning of her father, Mehbooba Mufti has not held any political discussion or meeting with her party colleagues or BJP and has not issued any political statement since the day her father became ill during a tour of Srinagar city on December 22. He breathed his last at AIIMS in New Delhi on January 7th.


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