So Now PDP-BJP Squabble Over Portfolios
SRINAGAR: In a fresh twist to the government formation in J&K, the BJP is eyeing two key portfolios that were held by the Peoples Democratic Party in the previous coalition.
The demand by the Hindu rightwing party along with stellar misconfigurations has led to the delay in resumption of the PDP-BJP alliance, sources said.
Ending days of speculations after the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, sealed her party's coalition with the Hindu right-wingers, a senior BJP leader Wednesday said the party is negotiating with its ally for "equal distribution" of ministerial berths.
"To do the balancing act (in the cabinet), we are holding negotiations on many portfolios with the PDP which includes finance and planning," Ashok Kaul, the party's state general secretary, said.
Kaul exuded hope that things will get clear in "couple of days" after which the new government may be sworn into office, "After the negotiations are over, the two parties will sit down and finalise a date for oath-taking ceremony," he said.
Under the chief ministership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the PDP had ten Cabinet Minister including finance, home, tourism and revenue ministries, along with three Minister of State (MoS) berths,. The BJP, on the other hand, had six Cabinet and five MoS; power, forests and health among some of the key berths.
However, the Hindu rightwing party has now raised the issue of "disparity" in the cabinet. Kaul said the BJP wants "equal share" of portfolios in the cabinet to be led by Mehbooba Mufti, although the party is not pressing for home department.
"Home department has always been under CM in J&K and it will remain so. We are only asking for equal share in the cabinet but it should not be seen as a demand.” Koul said.
The two allies have delayed the coronation ceremony after some legislators of the Hindu rightwing party declined to take oath, citing the waning moon period preceding Navratras, which is considered to be inauspicious, according to Hindu traditions.
Seeking confidence building measures from the Centre, Mehbooba met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, a meeting she described as "positive", paving way for her elevation as the first woman chief minister of the troubled state.
Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday again asked the PDP chief to clarify the terms on which her party has formed government with the BJP.
"She (Mehbooba) kept people waiting for nearly three months, seeking CBMs from the Centre. Now we want to know what she assurances she has got from the Prime Minister that she resumed the coalition,"
The coalition partners are also expected to effect a minor reshuffle within. According to sources, some new faces from the PDP and the BJP may be inducted into the new cabinet. Sources said the Peoples Conference chairman, Sajad Gani Lone, will retain his ministerial berth from BJP quota.
Koul also said the party is discussing introducing new faces in the cabinet and a minor reshuffle is on the cards, "Some fresh faces may be inducted in the new cabinet from our quota," he said.
(Photograph: Does it matter who gets what portfolio, given that even garbage is not being disposed off in Kashmir.)