Mehbooba formally conveys list of CBMs to Madhav; seeks timeframe

Neeraj Rohmetra
JAMMU, Feb 18: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has, for the first time, officially conveyed her demands in the form of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) she wants the Central Government to take before formation of new Government in Jammu and Kashmir, which was under Governor’s Rule for the past over 40 days.
Mehbooba conveyed her demands to BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, the point man of the party on J&K Government formation, who was architect of the previous PDP-BJP coalition, headed by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, which had ceased to exist on January 7 with the death of Sayeed, leading to imposition of Governor’s Rule in the State.
According to insiders in the PDP and BJP, Madhav visited Srinagar yesterday to meet Mehbooba Mufti and know the CBMs from her which she wants the Centre to take before the two former coalition partners form the Government again.
They said Mehbooba has stressed on return of at least two power projects to Jammu and Kashmir from the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC), two smart cities for the State—Jammu and Srinagar, which serve as rotational capital cities, vacation of some land under occupation of the Army in the State and economic package for people of the State including those affected by September, 2014 devastating floods.
They pointed out that situation in Jammu and Kashmir including the latest incident of Kakapora, Pulwama in which two civilians including a young girl were killed and incidents of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) also figured in about an hour long meeting between Madhav and Mehbooba yesterday.
Mehbooba is understood to have told Madhav that her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had aligned with the BJP without bothering about his political career with the hope that the Central Government will bring Jammu and Kashmir out of the crisis. However, she hastened to add that not much progress was made to fulfill aspirations of the State.
Insiders said the PDP president had told Madhav that no major headway was made in implementation of significant points in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ (agreed upon by PDP and BJP before formation of the Government) during 10 month tenure of Mufti Sayeed.
She wanted a strict timeframe for implementation of the CBMs she was asking for, which were nothing new and majority of them were part of the ‘Agenda of Alliance’.
Noting that there was no possibility of formation of new Government in the State immediately, sources said formation of Government before start of the budget session of Parliament on February 23 is completely ruled out as Mehbooba Mufti has made it clear to the BJP national general secretary that the Central Government had to come out with time-frame for implementation of points raised by her from the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ and others.
Sources said Madhav listened to Mehbooba Mufti’s points and assured to come back to her after taking up them with the BJP high command and the concerned Union Ministers.
According to sources, the CBMs sought by Mehbooba Mufti pertained to different Union Ministers.
Return of two power projects to the State is an issue with Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Piyush Goel but, according to sources, this is such a sensitive issue that it can’t be decided by Goel alone and a call on it can be taken up by the Union Cabinet alone.
Vacation of land under Army occupation is another sensitive issue, which has to be decided by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar but, sources said, he too would go by the advice of Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and other stake holders.
Union Minister for Housing and Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu has to take call on increasing number of one smart city given to Jammu and Kashmir to two but, according to sources, this is the easiest of the CBMs, which the Centre can take just like the case of Central Universities and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).  Initially, only one CU and AIIMS were given to the State but following agitation in Jammu, their number was raised to two.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have to take call on economic package for the people of the State including that for September 2014 flood victims.
Sources said Ram Madhav would take up the issues raised by Mehbooba Mufti with BJP president Amit Shah and other stake holders before coming back to her. As the process was time consuming, sources said there were no chances of an early Government formation in the State.
PTI adds from New Delhi:
After over month-long logjam, PDP-BJP coalition appears to be back on track in Jammu and Kashmir with the saffron party today saying both sides are “positive” and indicated its willingness to accept Mehbooba Mufti’s demand for time-bound implementation of certain elements of the common agenda.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, who flew to Srinagar yesterday for a brief visit and held talks with PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, hoped that the alliance formed in March last year would continue on the basis of “previous arrangement”.
“Talks were positive…. I hope there will be continuation of previous arrangement,” he told reporters here.
He said the coalition will work on the basis of ‘Agenda of Alliance’ firmed up between the two parties last year and insisted that “there will be no dilution” or “any new addition” in it.
At the same time, he said BJP is willing to discuss bringing into a “timeline” a “few issues” which have found a mention in the alliance’s Common Minimum Programme, implying readiness to accept Mehbooba’s demand in this regard.
The leaders of PDP will arrive here shortly to discuss these issues with BJP leaders as well as Ministers since some of them concern the Government, Madhav said.
Though he refused to be drawn into the issues concerned, PDP is understood to be pressing for revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and holding talks with separatists among others with a specific timeline.
Madhav denied a media report which said that BJP has agreed to revoke AFSPA from some areas of Kashmir on trial basis, claiming that there has been no discussion on it with Mehbooba.
PDP and BJP ran a 10-month coalition Government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed till his sudden death on January 7 but uncertainty creeped in after Mehbooba, seen as his successor, did not stake claim to form the next Government.
The logjam continued for about 40 days, during which Mehbooba hardened her stance, saying PDP “cannot move forward” in forming Government with BJP unless the Centre takes “tangible” CBMs to address the causes of alienation and works towards a lasting solution to the State’s problems.
The PDP chief, who was invited by Governor N N Vohra on February 2 for consultations on Government formation, told him that she would like to see the Centre take “concrete steps” to address causes of the State’s “political uncertainty, economic disempowerment, development deficit, unfulfilled promises” before she makes any moves to form the Government with BJP.
On his talks with Mehbooba yesterday, Madhav said this was the first detailed discussion between the two parties over the Government formation.
He said he had conveyed to her that the Government under her late father was running well on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme and BJP wanted the arrangement to continue.
The two leaders decided to “speed up” work on a few issues and put them under a “timeline”, he said but did not elaborate.
There will be more clarity after the meeting of PDP leaders with BJP leadership, Madhav added.
The BJP leader, who was instrumental in firming up of the Agenda of Alliance’ for the coalition last year, said it is a “comprehensive document” envisioning good governance and development of Jammu and Kashmir.
PDP too has said that the document is “sacred”, he said.
He noted that had the alliance Government would have completed one year in March if it had continued.