With Mehbooba in mourning, J&K becomes a headless State
Governor asks for PDP's, BJP's stand on government formation
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 8: With no claim of the government formation coming forward from the PDP-BJP alliance, Jammu and Kashmir on Friday became a headless State as Governor Narendra Nath Vohra decided against imposition of the Governor's rule before seeking the coalition partners' stand with regard to constitution of the new dispensation following Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death.
For the whole day, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti remained confined to her bedroom at her Fairview residence on Gupkar Road which was thronged by hundreds of visitors offering condolences over Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death. PDP spokesman Dr Mehboob Beg said that Ms Mufti met with "only a couple of the guests" while as most of the guests were attended by her family members including maternal uncle Sartaj Madni.
In the evening, BJP leaders Ram Madhav and Avinash Rai Khanna called on Ms Mufti. She had a 30-minute long meeting with Madhav and, according to sources, made it clear to him that she would not take any political meetings or decisions before conclusion of her father's fourth day ceremony on Sunday. BJP's chief whip in Rajya Sabha and national vice president incharge Jammu and Kashmir Khanna and the outgoing Dy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh were not allowed in the meeting.
Later, at 8.00 p.m. both Madhav and Khanna returned to New Delhi by the same chartered plane that earlier ferried them to Srinagar.
Madhav and Khanna also had a meeting with their party leaders and legislators upon their arrival at Circuit House. One of the senior BJP leaders present in the meeting revealed to STATE TIMES that the BJP legislators handed to Khanna a resolution that called for rotational term of 3 years for PDP's and BJP's Chief Ministers. Alternatively, it demanded 2 more Cabinet berths for BJP.
Madhav received the resolution and said that he would press it hard with PDP. However, he told the BJP gathering that he was not hopeful of its acceptance by the PDP.
The BJP MLAs and MLCs had several rounds of discussions at Circuit House over formation of the new government in an alliance with PDP under Ms Mufti. Sources said that the final call of supporting or not supporting a leader would have to be taken by the BJP high command in New Delhi. "We will do what we will be asked to do", a senior BJP legislator said.
BJP's State President and MLA Sat Paul Sharma told STATE TIMES that his party would neither respond to Governor's letter nor deliberate upon the government formation untill the mourning was over at Mufti's residence. However Ram Madhav reportedly told some journalists that BJP would respond to Governor’s communication by Saturday afternoon.
On Thursday evening, BJP legislators have already decided to support Ms Mufti’s claim for formation of the new government as and when it is submitted to Raj Bhawan.
Sources told STATE TIMES that earlier in the forenoon, Chief Secretary BR Sharma, ex-CM's Principal Secretary B.B. Vyas and Home Secretary R.K. Goyal called on Ms Mufti and insisted that she take the oath as Chief Minister within Friday. Senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar arranged their meeting with Ms Mufti who reportedly maintained that she was not prepared to take over as Chief Minister before conclusion of the mourning at her home.
An attempt by Mr Akhtar to persuade her to take the oath failed to yield any results. Later, in the evening, Home Secretary Goyal returned to Jammu and narrated all the day's developments to Governor Vohra whose aircraft was ready for the whole day to carry him to Srinagar for Mehbooba's swearing in ceremony.
Sources revealed to STATE TIMES that Governor submitted a report on the political developments to the Government of India with the proposal of imposition of Governor’s rule for a brief period. However the Centre advised him to first seek PDP's and BJP's stand with regard to formation of the new government. Accordingly, Raj Bhawan faxed separate letters to BJP State President Sat Paul Sharma and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti. Neither of them responded to the Raj Bhawan communication till midnight on Friday.
Sources close to PDP high command said that the party could meet on Monday to take a call. "If everything goes on smoothly, swearing-in ceremony could take place on January 12th----Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s birth anniversary", said an insider. It is widely speculated that Ms Mufti would choose her fresh team as members of her Council of Ministers if she decided to be her father's successor as Chief Minister.
Those who drove all the way to Bijbehara to offer Fatiha at Mufti's tomb and later stayed together at Mehbooba's Srinagar residence included former Chief Minister Gh Nabi Azad, CPM State Secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and independent MLA Hakeem Mohammad Yasin.
[ Published in today's STATE TIMES ]