Process for new Govt formation to pick up after Sunday

BJP general secretary and in-charge J&K Affairs Ram Madhav with senior leaders of the BJP in a meeting at Srinagar on Friday. —Excelsior/Amin War
BJP general secretary and in-charge J&K Affairs Ram Madhav with senior leaders of the BJP in a meeting at Srinagar on Friday. —Excelsior/Amin War

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Jan 8: Process for Government formation in the State was likely to pick up only on January 11, a day after ‘congregational fateha’ of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed when the PDP and BJP would enter into formal talks though the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ would remain unchanged and majority of Council of Ministers were also likely to be retained even as possibility of some new faces can’t be ruled out at this stage.
Top PDP leaders said there will be no talks within the party till ‘congregational fateha’ of Mufti Sayeed, scheduled for Sunday, on the Government formation. The PDP Legislature Party will meet only after Sunday to elect party president and Mufti’s daughter, Mehbooba Mufti as the LP leader.
“Once the talks with BJP are formalized, the PDP and BJP will elect Mehbooba as leader of their joint Legislature Party,” PDP and BJP leaders said, adding only then they will meet Governor and stake claim to form the Government with the list of supporting MLAs including those of PDP, BJP, People’s Conference of Sajjad Lone and Independents (Pawan Gupta and Bakir Hussain Rizvi).
Satisfied with the support Mehbooba enjoyed in the Assembly, the Governor could then appoint her as 13th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Mehbooba will then convey to the Governor the day, timing and venue for taking oath as the new Chief Minister of the State.
Sources confirmed that no party has so far sent any letter of support to the Raj Bhawan on the Government formation. This process will be done only after Mehbooba is elected PDP Legislature Party leader.
According to sources, Mehbooba was not ready to take oath as the Chief Minister of J&K until ‘congregational fateha’ of her father was performed.
PDP veteran leader and Lok Sabha member from Baramulla, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh also said that human sentiments have more weightage than politics and no one can force Mehbooba to take oath at this time even if it means imposition of Governor’s Rule in the State for a brief spell.
“It is a question of humanity. Mehbooba and her family members including two daughters are in deep shock. How can we approach her and ask her to take oath? This will be selfishness as she had lost her beloved father,” Beigh said.
While BJP was more or less expected to retain its team, which was part of Mufti Sayeed’s Council of Ministry, it was up to Mehbooba whether she goes with the same team or make some changes in the Ministry.
Mufti Sayeed had on, March 1, 2015, while taking oath as the Chief Minister sworn-in all 24 Ministers with him. As per the Constitutional provisions, J&K can have maximum of 25 Ministers including the Chief Minister.
In the Mufti Sayeed Ministry, the BJP had only 10 Ministers as against PDP’s 15. BJP had seven Cabinet Ministers and three Ministers of State while PDP had 12 Cabinet Ministers and three Ministers of State.
There was an opinion in the BJP that they should take some corrective measures to seek more presence in the Cabinet and gain additional portfolios. However, the BJP would take up this issue with the PDP only after talks between the two parties after Sunday.
BJP leaders maintained that a final call on the Government formation will be taken by the Central high command.
“There was broad consensus among the BJP leaders that the PDP was their preferred partner and present arrangement with the party shall continue. However, formal talks would start only after Monday,” party leaders said.
The issue figured in the BJP meeting held at Srinagar today, which was attended among others by BJP general secretary, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav, BJP vice president Avinash Rai Khanna, Incharge J&K, Dr Nirmal Singh and other senior party leaders.
Madhav also called on Mehbooba Mufti at her residence and offered condolences to her. He was with Mehbooba for about 20 minutes.
After the meeting, Madhav said he had gone to meet Mehbooba Mufti to express condolences on the demise of Mufti Sayeed.
“We had some discussions over the future of the Government but I will not able to share more details about these deliberations right now,” he added and said: “when time will come, we will let you know”.
Replying to a question if there was any Constitutional crisis in the absence of a Government in the State, Madhav said Governor NN Vohra will be in a position to comment on it.
BJP State unit president Sat Sharma, CA said the formal discussions on Government formation with the PDP will start only on Monday after ‘congregational fateha’ of Mufti Sayeed on Sunday.
Our Srinagar correspondent adds : In the meantime, sources said that Congress is making efforts to form Government with the help of some Independent MLAs with PDP to keep BJP away from power in the State.
Sources said that Congress is in touch with PDP leadership over its support for formation of PDP-Congress Government in the State. And today Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, JKPCC chief G A Mir and three Congress MLAs along with two other MLAs – CPI(M) MLA Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and Independent MLA from Khansahib H M Yaseen –visited the grave of former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in his home town Bijbehara in South Kashmir and offered special prayers. The visit of these leaders to Mufti’s grave has also given rise to speculations about Congress supporting PDP for forming a non-BJP Government.

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