TO BE OR NOT TO BE..? PDP TO RESOLVE DILEMMA TODAY
Mehbooba Mufti with PDP’s Baig and BJP President Amit Shah (file pic)
SRINAGAR: All eyes are set on today's crucial meeting of the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, with her party's legislators which will seal the fate of the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 pm at Mehbooba's Fairview residence in Srinagar, "There will be deliberations on the prevailing political stalemate in the state and the future course for the party. Mehboobaji will also get views of party leaders on alliance with the BJP," a senior PDP leader said.
Against the backdrop of the deepening political crisis in the state, sources said the PDP president has also been summoned by the Governor NN Vohra on February 2 to seek her views on the roadblocks for government formation.
The BJP, the PDP's former ally, is also holding a core-group meeting in Jammu today to review the political situation in the aftermath of the PDP's demand of assurances from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a marathon meeting of the PDP leaders and workers on Sunday, Mehbooba finally broke her silence on government formation in J&K, hitting out at "certain quarters" in the BJP for letting down her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had a turbulent, ten-month stint as chief minister of the state.
"Mufti saheb was hopeful that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the core political and economic issues concerning Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, instead of partnering with and implementing his vision, certain quarters, both within J&K and in New Delhi, started overtly and covertly triggering frequent controversies over avoidable contentious issues,” she said.
Ruling out continuing the alliance which her party forged with the BJP in March last year, Mehbooba said the PDP will "reassess" the ten-month rule of the coalition government, which was marred by the Hindu right-wing party's "backtracking" on alliance agenda and political controversies turning communal.
“In such violative circumstances, we will have to reassess whether we can absorb the shocks which Mufti Sahab had to do so frequently in his effort to forge reconciliation between the regions and the people of the State,” she said, pointing to the 10-month rule which brought down the PDP's popularity in Kashmir.
However, terming Mehbooba's remarks as "contemptuous attempt" to test the patience of the people, the National Conference Sunday said the PDP-BJP alliance will be the "defining legacy" of Sayeed.
"If PDP wants assurances from the BJP about the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ now, what was Mufti Sahab doing for the last ten months while every single political and developmental promise in the agenda was flouted and broken by both parties in carefully cinematographed fixed matches?" the party said in a statement.
Mehbooba, however, said: "We won't form the government for the sake of power. The PDP will have to reassess whether the Central Government is ready to trust the people of Jammu and Kashmir and carry out implementation of ‘Agenda of Alliance’ with sincerity of purpose,” she said.
Among many other political and developmental components, the "Agenda of the Alliance', chalked out between the two parties last March, talks about starting a dialogue with the Hurriyat, protecting the special status of the state and wresting back the control of two key power projects from the NHPC.
The energy-starved state will have to shell out nearly Rs 7000 crore in liability for power purchases this fiscal.
"Agenda of Alliance is an effort to seek national reconciliation on J&K and facilitate formation of a coalition government in the state that will be empowered to catalyse reconciliation and confidence building process and create conditions to facilitate resolution of all issues of J&K," Mehbooba said.
Mehbooba said while progress was made during the past ten months towards the implementation of good-governance practices in the agenda, there was "little movement forward on implementation of political and economic initiatives".
“Instead there were some recurrent unsettling developments which led to lack of congenial atmosphere and had a negative impact even on the good work done on the governance front. We could not make a mark among the people because of some unsettling issues being raised by certain quarters repeatedly,” she said.
“He (Mufti) tried his best to do something for the people and we will have to reassess whether we can make some real difference on the ground by carrying forward his mission, which needs a congenial political atmosphere,” she said.
Mehbooba said her party expects "tangible measures" from the Centre to take the reconciliation process started between 2002 and 2005 to it's logical conclusion. “We hope the Government of India will take concrete measures towards the implementation of Agenda of Alliance in the interest of peace and stability of the State and the region,” she said.
Jammu and Kashmir was placed under the Governor's rule on January 8 after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away on January 7 in New Delhi after a brief illness, and Mehbooba Mufti did not stake claim to form the government.
The party termed as "presumption" whether fresh elections could be called in the state. The government formation is not stuck but "it's a process that will carry on", PDP's Naeem Akhtar said.
"She is ready to take a call on it once she is convinced that the purpose and the objective of the alliance that Mufti had forged with Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be taken to its logical conclusion. That is why he (Mufti) always spoke about Indo-Pak relations even on his death bed and the other things which include the economic side of it so that the state is taken out of its problems," Akhtar said.