Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday denied rift between them over future power sharing in the state.
Speculations were rife in the state that serious differences had surfaced between the allies over future power sharing after Mehbooba Mufti refused to take oath as the new chief minister to succeed her late father Mufti Mohamed Sayeed before the traditional four-day period of mourning ended.
Talking to journalists, BJP’s state unit chief Sat Pal Sharma said: “There are certainly no conditions from our side and there was no meeting of our leaders on government formation.
“We respect the right of the bereaved family of Mufti Sahib to mourn his death.”
Sharma confirmed he had received a letter from Governor N N Vohra on future government formation, adding the party will take a decision only after the mourning for Sayeed is over.
He said the BJP was interested in peace and development in the state and his party wants to continue the coalition to continue on the path shown by Sayeed.
Senior PDP leader and former education minister Naeem Akhtar also dismissed rumours about any conditions set forth by either party for forming the new government.
“Mufti Sahib was not only her father but guide, mentor and inspiration. We are not in any condition to discuss government formation at this moment. She is in mourning right now,” he said.
Akhtar said the party leadership including the president will discuss and decide on government formation at an appropriate time.
“Nobody can even remotely suggest to her that she break her mourning and be sworn in as the chief minister, a close friend of the Mufti family said.
Mehbooba is reputed to have pulled her father out of political hibernation in 1999 when the PDP was formed.
Sources said when BJP general secretary Ram Madhav met her on Friday to express his condolences at the chief minister’s high security Gupkar Road residence, she politely told him she was in no frame of mind to discuss politics when the family was in mourning.
The state’s top bureaucrats, including the chief secretary and the principal secretary to the chief minister, were also told the same thing when they called on her on Friday.
Family sources said she has been spending most of her time with her mother. “Tears well up each time somebody alludes to the times of her father.”
As constitutional experts keep arguing whether the absence of a government in Jammu and Kashmir is a constitutional crisis or not, for Mehbooba Mufti, politics comes much after the love and respect she has for her father.
The decks already seem to have been cleared for her swearing-in by tomorrow or later next week.
The governor has sent letters to both the PDP and the BJP to “urgently” come forward with proposals about government formation in the state. This is legally the last ditch effort by Vohra to avoid imposition of a short spell of governor’s rule.
Senior PDP leader and constitutional expert, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh said there was no constitutional crisis in the state as the death of the chief minister did not mean there was a breakdown of the administrative machinery.
“There is no constitutional crisis. We have a constitutional mechanism through which the state governor can run the affairs of governance through bureaucrats without appointing any advisers for the intervening period”, Beigh told reporters.
Reports also suggest the BJP state leadership is seeking a better bargain in the new political arrangement with the PDP once Mehbooba takes over the reins of governance.
Dismissing any give-or-take before Mehbooba Mufti takes over, Beigh said: “The rules of the game cannot be changed because Mufti Sahib has passed away.”
Those who know Mehbooba say she would not even discuss any climbing down from the terms agreed to by her father and the BJP high command.
“The large heartedness of Mufti Sahib owed itself to his long years of experience and political grooming. Mehboobaji has always been unrelenting in her approach to politics,” said a senior minister in the government headed by Sayeed.
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