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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mehbooba holds unscheduled meeting with Governor

J&K Governor, Lok Sabha Speaker played key role in stitching PDP-BJP coalition, sources revealed to STATE TIMES

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, March 26: Within a couple of hours of her formal meeting with Governor N.N. Vohra, Chief Minister-designate and President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti had an unscheduled meeting on Saturday evening with the Governor at Raj Bhawan in the winter capital of Jammu.

Mehbooba’s second meeting with the Governor, of which nobody in PDP and BJP had an inkling till late on Saturday night, surprised leaders of both the political parties. "We came to know of it through some journalists as no such meeting, to the best of our knowledge, was scheduled with the Governor", a senior BJP leader told STATE TIMES, even as he insisted to go anonymous.

PDP leaders too declined to say anything on record, though they maintained that nobody in the party knew about this political development.

However, at least one PDP leader insisted that it was "very much a scheduled meeting".

“It was a scheduled meeting which Mehbooba Mufti had requested for during the first meeting,” he said.

Raj Bhawan sources maintained that no such meeting had been previously sought by Ms Mufti or any other political leader. "Leaders of both, PDP and BJP, had sought just a joint meeting with Governor. That happened and ended. PDP's Tariq Hameed Karra and Muzaffar Baig besides BJP’s Nirmal Singh accompanied Ms Mufti and gave her unanimous support as Chief Minister. It initiated, progressed and ended smoothly. No other meeting of any political leader was scheduled with Governor today", said a government official posted in Raj Bhawan.

Neither a press release was issued nor anybody from media invited for a briefing.

Sources in New Delhi revealed to STATE TIMES that Governor Vohra and Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan had actually stitched the new PDP-BJP coalition after they arranged a series of Ms Mufti's one-on-one meetings with senior BJP leaders including the union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari in the Speaker's chamber in the months of February and March. They also arranged several meetings separately between the PDP leader and former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

These sources said there was a possibility that Ms Mufti went to Governor to express her personal gratitude to him or to sort out an issue related to BJP's purported demand of two more Cabinet berths and some key portfolios.

Governor is likely to pass vote-on-account for three months on March 28. An instalment of Dearness Allowance of 6% with effect from July 1, 2015, is likely to be announced for the State government employees in the Governor’s Vote on Account.

On April 2, Governor’s administration will remain busy with Jammu University's Annual Convocation which would be attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari. There is a strong possibility that Ms Mufti and her Council of Ministers could be sworn in any day between April 3 and 6 following which a special session of less than seven days of the Legislature would be summoned on April 8th or 9th.

Under rules, Legislature must meet within 6 months of the last day of the last session. Governor had adjourned Assembly sine die on October 10, 2015.


[ Published in today’s STATE TIMES ] 

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