Deadlock in J&K government formation continues

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Mehbooba Mufti, PDP leader
Mehbooba Mufti, CM in waiting?

Even as the deadlock over formation of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government continues, alliance partners, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), show no signs of relenting.

The PDP is likely to convene a meeting on 15 January whether the BJP will implement what has been agreed upon in Agenda of Alliance last year. PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said, “During the meeting, we will also review the achievements of the past 10 months of the coalition government under Mufti.”

The party has conveyed its stand and it is now up to the BJP to put across its point of view—whether or not they are willing to implement the Agenda of Alliance, said a PDP leader.

Describing the Agenda of Alliance as a “sacred document”, Akhtar said there have been several gaps in its implementation. Here, he referred to issues such as return of power projects to J&K, developing smart cities, return of land under use of armed forces.

State BJP president Sat Sharma said “Naeem Akhtar is not the PDP’s official spokesperson. Like him, there are many in our party too making such statements, but we cannot lend credence to them. But if it is the voice of the PDP, then we’ll have to form our strategy.”

Top PDP sources said Mehbooba conveyed her “displeasure over the progress of agenda set by the coalition in March last year during meetings with top BJP leaders”, according to The Hindu.

Senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh, who was deputy CM in the Mufti government, said, “We don’t know if his (Akhtar’s) statement had Mehbooba Mufti’s sanction,” adding “We are waiting for an official response from them (PDP).”

There is also a division within the PDP regarding its handling of the coalition. A section of the party close to the BJP believes raising such issues before government formation is “counter-productive”. Neither the PDP nor the BJP has a choice to form a government without each other. Neither can afford another election, said a senior PDP leader.

Meanwhile, former CM Omar Abdullah said the PDP’s review of the performance of its coalition with the BJP was a vindication of the charge that the government did nothing in the past 10 months.