SRINAGAR: Within hours of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s demise, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had conveyed to the governor that its president, Mehbooba Mufti, would be the next chief minister of the state.
A letter sent from the Raj Bhawan to Home Ministry, New Delhi, suggests that PDP’s member of parliament Muzaffar Hussain Baig and its general secretary Nizamudin Bhat had met the governor, N N Vohra, at Srinagar Airport on the evening of January 7—the day on which Sayeed had passed away.
The meeting has taken place after the PDP leader had sought a “prior appointment” with Vohra, and they conveyed to him the party’s support to Mehbooba’s appointment as the CM.
“Before I left Srinagar to return to Jammu on January 7, a PDP delegation, comprising MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig and PDP general secretary Nizamudin Bhat, met me with prior appointment at the Srinagar Airport.
“Baig informed me that he had brought a letter from his party addressed to me, which intimated PDP’s decision that Mehbooba Mufti would be the next chief minister,” reads the letter accessed by Kashmir Reader.
The letter was dispatched on January 9.
Vohra wrote in the letter that Baig did not handover the letter-of-support to him because of uncertainty about the decision of other PDP legislators.
“Baig explained to me that he was not handing over the letter to me, as he needed to recheck and be fully assured that all the PDP MLA’s were on board with regard to the decision,” the letter reads.
The governor, as per the letter, informed the PDP delegation that the successor chief minister had to be administered oath by January 8.
He also told them that appointing Mehbooba as the CM would require a resolution from the party’s legislators and a letter-of-support from alliance partner BJP.
And Baig had replied that both the documents would be dispatched to Vohra on January 8.
However, when the documents didn’t reach the Raj Bhawan on time, the governor formally asked PDP and BJP to clear their stand on government formation.
“…till 1300 hours, I have received no communication from the PDP regarding the election of its new leader…. And I would appreciate an urgent reply (by Fax) to determine the next steps,” Vohra stated in the letter sent to Mehbooba on January 8.
Earlier, Vohra had conveyed to BJP’s Nirmal Singh and PDP’s Naeem Akhtar the constitutional requirements and timeframe for swearing-in of the new CM.
The PDP-BJP alliance hangs in balance after the demise of Mufti as Mehbooba had set Confidence Building Measures as the demand for continuing the coalition with the saffron party. Media reports suggest BJP national general Ram Madhav would hold parleys with the PDP chief to set the alliance on track again.
The PDP has been demanding implementation of provisions of the Agenda of Alliance, a governance document between the two, including return of power projects, liberal funding and revocation of AFSPA in a gradual manner. Mehbooba, however, has not elaborated about the CBMs.
When contacted by Kashmir Reader, Nizamudin Bhat avoided commenting on their meeting with Vohra.