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Tariq Bhat
Tariq Bhat


BJP-PDP govt likely as Mehbooba softens her stand

mehbooba-mufti-reuters Mehbooa had demanded that centre take some confidence building measures | Reuters

Fear of defections and pressure tactics by the centre seem to have forced Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti to soften her stand against resuming an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Governor's rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the death of former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on January 7 as his daughter Mehbooa Mufti refused to resume the alliance with BJP and demanded that centre take some confidence building measures.

Mehbooba initially didn't spell out the kind of CBMs she wanted Narendra Modi led government to take, but later it became clear that she wanted return of two hydel power projects to state, withdrawal of AFSPA and generous financial aid to 2014 flood victims.

It was the anger among people against PDP's decision to allay with the BJP that forced Mehbooba to harden her stand and to put riders to resume the alliance.

Some PDP legislators supported her stand but some, including a first time minister, wanted her to resume alliance with the saffron party.

Mehbooba's tough stand seemed to be working to her advantage after BJP general secretary Ram Madhav met her at her official residence in Srinagar. But as days passed it emerged that BJP was not ready to concede to any of her demands in view of the upcoming elections in five states.

Meanwhile, governor N.N. Vohra took some serious decision and initiatives like release of assistance to flood victims—second and the last tranche, the drudging of river Jhelum that was the main cause of 2014 floods, increasing the quota of ration from five kgs to seven and getting a consent from army to vacate the Toto ground camp in Srinagar. Most of decisions were appreciated by commoners.

Behind the scenes, sources said, a plan to weaken Mehbooba in the party by encouraging defections was also set in motion.

On March 21, Mehbooba met Modi for 15 minutes in Delhi. She called the meeting very positive. “The meeting with prime minister was very positive, I am very satisfied,'' she said after the meeting.

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, however, said that the prime minister told Mehbooba to discuss the government formation with the party.

'' No condition were put forth by Mehbooba,'' he said. ''One Thursday, March 24, she is meeting the legislators in Srinagar to discuss the government formation.''

Political analysts are unanimous that Mehbooba's stand has not yield anything substantial for PDP. Instead she has emerged weaker. This increases the chances of Mehbooba reconciling with BJP. If that doesn't happen, the state may go to fresh elections as demanded by National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.

Meanwhile, Vohra has invited leaders of the PDP and BJP for separate meetings with him on March 25.

An official statement issued said, "Through separate communications, the governor has intimated the PDP and BJP presidents to meet him on Friday. The meetings with the two leaders have been scheduled to be held separately."

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