PDP Keeps Options Open
Kashmir waits: Mourning the ‘disappearance’ of her relative at a APDP protest in Srinagar(pic: Basit
SRINAGAR: In an attempt to reach out to the People's Democratic Party, the Union Finance Secretary, Ratan P Watal, Thursday met the party president, Mehbooba Mufti, at her Fairview residence here with "assurances" that the developmental process in Jammu and Kashmir will be expedited.
The visit comes against the backdrop of the call by the PDP for "review" of the alliance agenda chalked out between the two parties before the coalition government was sworn into office on March 1 last year, making the BJP jittery.
A senior PDP leader said the Finance Secretary called on Mehbooba on Thursday afternoon and discussed the allocation of developmental funds for J&K. The visit is seen as an 'olive branch' by the BJP-led Centre to warm up its relations with the PDP.
"The meeting lasted for an hour and Mr Watal discussed the progress on allocation of funds for various development projects sanctioned for J&K. He assured Mehboobaji that the Centre will expedite the process for release of funds under the Prime Minister’s development package," the PDP leader said.
Mehbooba had discussed ‘fund-choking’ by New Delhi with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitly during his visit to AIIMS where Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was undergoing treatment. Following her intervention, the Government of India released Rs 1194 crore to J&K as part of the development package for rebuilding the flood-hit houses.
The PDP has also sought assurance from the BJP on implementation of the 'Agenda of the Alliance', an ambitious roadmap for governing the troubled state between the two parties which talked, among many other issues, about protecting the special status of J&K, wresting back two key power projects from the state-owned NHPC and addressing the political and developmental issues of the state.
However, the PDP is visibly upset about the manner in which the Hindu right-wing party has "violated" the principles it had agreed to in the agenda. "Among many points, the issue of returning the power projects owned by NHPC to J&K was one of the key elements of the alliance agenda which has been clearly denied by the Centre," the PDP leader said.
The situation between the coalition partners has gone from bad to worse after the BJP's National General Secretary, Ram Madhav, raised the issue of government formation with the PDP president, a day after her father had died, which didn't go down well with her. She is reported to have scoffed Madhav for discussing politics at the time of her tragedy.
Sources said there has been no engagement at the political level between the two parties with the middle-rung leadership of the BJP trying in vain to reach out to the PDP president.
“We will assess the performance of our past 10-month rule and then take a decision (on new government). Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) sahib had a vision for the state and we will see how much of it we have been able to implement on the ground,” PDP’s senior party leader Naeem Akhtar said yesterday.