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Mehbooba softens stand, game for government with BJP

Photo : IANS

Photo : IANS

In the so far clearest signal that PDP is tying up again with BJP to form the government in J&K, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti Monday said that she won’t back away from her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s decision to go with BJP. She said she will do nothing that proves that her father was wrong in choosing the saffron party as its alliance partner.

“Mufti Saheb ka faisla pathar ki lakeer hay (Mufti’s decision is cast in stone),” she said while addressing PDP workers in North Kashmir town of Kupwara. “Unka faisla mera faisla (His decision is mine too)”.

Though Mehbooba sought some action on the largely unimplemented Common Minimum Programme, she made little secret of her desire to resume the alliance. “Mufti Saheb took a considered decision to ally with BJP. I respect that. But what about the Agenda of Alliance? That is also important”.

This softness in Mehbooba’s stand has not been sudden. Over the past some days, she has been speaking in favour of the PDP-BJP alliance. She has gone back on the insistence on Confidence Building Measures, instead seeking assurance on the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance.

Mehbooba’s rethink is understood to be the result of the ongoing secret talks with BJP. Senior PDP leaders Haseeb Drabu and Amitabh Mattu are in New Delhi, holding consultations with the senior BJP leadership like Ram Madhav and Arun Jaitley. The duo has also visited various ministries to pursue the timely implementation of the mutually agreed development schemes for the state.

But publicly BJP has said little that could be construed as giving in to PDP demands. No top BJP leader has sought to address the apprehensions of Mehbooba, let alone Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah, both of whom have maintained an antiseptic distance from the ongoing political stalemate in the state. There have only been casual statements from the state level and central BJP leaders offering their renewed support to the common minimum programme

On Sunday BJP Vice President Avinash Rai Khanna said his party was serious about the coalition agenda. “We are committed to implement the Agenda of Alliance which is for the development and welfare of the people. The Agenda was the priority of late Mufti Sahab as well,” Khanna said. He said BJP has taken firm steps to realize the common minimum programme.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave Rs 80000 crore package for the development of Jammu and Kashmir. Wasn’t that an assurance that BJP is committed to translate the development agenda for the state into reality?”.

Mehbooba is today leaving for New Delhi to attend the ongoing Parliament session. The PDP sources say she will hold more consultations with the BJP leadership to take the process of government formation forward.

“There is hope that the things will work out soon,” said a PDP leader. “We are making no fresh demands but seek only good faith implementation of our mutually agreed agenda”.

BJP, it is learnt, has privately shown some willingness to work towards the gradual implementation of some of the key points on Agenda of Alliance like vacating of land illegally held by the Army, return of power projects by NHPC and building of two smart cities for the state – one for Jammu and another for Srinagar.

“But BJP doesn’t want to talk about it publicly,” said a PDP leader. “This has some political implications for the party at the national level”.

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