J-K govt formation: PDP chief Mehbooba hints at snapping ties with BJP

Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti hinted on Friday she could snap ties with coalition partner BJP if the Centre didn’t announce a string of “confidence-building measures” (CBM) in the wake of a prolonged stalemate over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.

At a meeting in Jammu, Mehbooba told party workers the new measures were aimed at creating a “positive atmosphere” before the new government was formed but said the announcement shouldn’t be construed as a “blackmailing” tactic.

“You can’t form a government in the air. The point is how to create a conducive atmosphere so that if a new government is formed, there is way forward for creating goodwill among the people. And for it you need the support of the government. If we get it is fine, if not then we will move on as we have been doing till now,” the 56-year-old leader said.

The state has been under governor’s rule amid rising political uncertainty since former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died on January 7, leaving behind a rocky coalition of ideologically-divergent partners.

Mehbooba hinted that the new measures should be political and not economic in nature, a day after governor NN Vohra appointed two advisers – a move seen as a pressure tactic by the Centre to show that it was not averse to prolonging governor’s rule.

“It’s not about finances. If there was no money, how could we do macadamisation? How could Mufti Sayeed start development works? There could be delay in getting finances , but if the government has to be formed there has to be a way for forward movement,” said Mehbooba.

Sources said the political CBMs hinted at could include holding peace talks with the separatists and Pakistan – a major bone of contention between the coalition partners.

The dialogue process was included in the agenda of alliance agreed upon last March but the Modi government hasn’t initiated any such process until now. The alliance partners had repeatedly sparred over similar issues, including Sayeed praising Pakistan for a peaceful poll process and the release of separatist Masarat Alam.

This was Mehbooba’s first major announcement after she met the governor along with BJP leaders on February 2 to explain their position on government formation.

She had then asked the Centre to announce CBMs but hadn’t issued an ultimatum or insisted the measures had to be political in nature.

The meeting – her first address to party workers since her father’s death – was also attended by her brother Tassaduq Mufti.

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