JEHANGIR ALI | 18 FEBRUARY, 2016
PDP -BJP Begin Talks to Revive JK Govt, Madhav Meets Mehbooba
SRINAGAR: Ending weeks of suspense, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP Wednesday began formal talks to end the political deadlock in Jammu and Kashmir following the demise of the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.
The BJP's national general secretary and the RSS man, Ram Madhav, who is in-charge of the party's Kashmir affairs wing, landed in a private, unscheduled plane on Wednesday evening at Srinagar airport where he was received by the state BJP leaders.
Madhav then drove straight to the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti's residence at Gupkar in Srinagar where the two leaders had a one-on-one meeting which lasted for over an hour, PDP sources said. The leaders of the two parties were in touch for over a week to prepare ground for Mehbooba-Madhav meeting, which will be crucial for shaping the course of political winds blowing in Jammu and Kashmir.
The state slipped under Governor's rule on January 8 following the demise of Sayeed, who headed a highly volatile coalition government with the BJP, which also tanked the PDP's popularity in Kashmir Valley. Mehbooba has herself acknowledged that the alliance was "unpopular", barely days after Sayeed's death, and urged the BJP-led Centre to announce "Confidence Building Measures".
Leaders of the two parties, led by Madhav and PDP's Haseeb Drabu, had chalked out "Agenda of the Alliance", a highly ambitious roadmap with political and economic components for governing J&K, which would have gone a long way in addressing political discontent and financial deficit in the state .
However, the PDP accuses the Hindu rightwing party of "backtracking" on some of the promises made in the alliance agenda, including the return of the NHPC-owned power projects to the energy-starved state, revocations of the draconian AFSPA from some parts of J&K and resumption of internal dialogue with the Hurriyat.
Madhav was recently authorised by the BJP president, Amit Shah, to rekindle the alliance which was nearly shelved by Mehbooba who dug her heels and refused to take oath immediately after the death of her father, despite the Hindu rightwing party's nod to transition of power from father to daughter, citing emotional reasons.
There was no clarity on what transpired between the two leaders in the meeting. Repeated phone calls to senior PDP leaders, including its spokesperson, went unanswered. Madhav too refused to speak with the media, either outside Mehbooba's residence, or at the Srinagar airport before returning to New Delhi where he will brief the BJP high-command.