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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Madhav meets Mehbooba on government formation in Srinagar

 Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Feb 17: Six weeks after her father and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death on January 7, BJP’s National General Secretary and co-author of the two parties’ ‘Agenda of Alliance’ Ram Madhav on Wednesday had the first formal meeting with the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar on formation of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Madhav flew from New Delhi to Srinagar in an 8-seater aircraft and drove straight to Mehbooba’s residence, Fairview, on Gupkar Road in the evening. Sources at Fairview told STATE TIMES that a senior officer of a Central intelligence agency also arrived in at the same time and he kept waiting outside till the hour-long one-on-one meeting concluded between the two leaders.

Nobody in the two parties had an inkling of what transpired in the meeting about which the Government agencies had not received any information. Officials said that Madhav returned to New Delhi by the same aircraft at 8.50 pm. An unconfirmed report said that he also interacted briefly with some BJP leaders at Circuit House before his departure.

It is widely speculated that Madhav called on Mehbooba only after her consent. Reportedly she had remained disinclined to meet Madhav and other BJP leaders in absence of a commitment on the “assurances” and “confidence building measures” she had publicly demanded as a pre-condition to forging a fresh alliance with BJP after her meeting with Governor Narendra Nath Vohra in Jammu on January 2. A day before, Governor had written to the BJP State President Sat Pal Sharma and the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti to make their respective party stands clear to the Raj Bhawan within 24 hours.

While as BJP sought time of 10 more days, Ms Mufti made it clear that she would take an initiative for the government formation only after a commitment from the alliance partner with regard to timebound implementation of the commitments agreed upon between PDP and BJP and recorded in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’. Previously, on the day of PDP Core Group’s meeting, senior leader Naeem Akhtar had specified that PDP needed an assurance with regard to the commitments like Smart Cities, removal of security forces from the properties occupied by them and commencement of an initiative of addressing the “internal dimension” of the Kashmir problem.

However, in a volte face, senior PDP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister told the media at a workers meeting in Jammu the other day that PDP had not made any demand of CBMs from the BJP. He indicated that formation of the new government was imminent.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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