Srinagar: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly rejected PDP President Mehbooba Mufti’s demand of announcing Kashmir-centric CBM’s, putting the government formation in even deeper freeze.
Top sources within both the PDP and BJP told Kashmir Reader that Modi had conveyed to BJP President Amit Shah that a political party cannot resort to arm-twisting and insisted the PDP should form the government first. Modi, sources said, demanded Mehbooba must take over as Chief Minister first and later come through “a proper channel” with her demands.
While the PDP later tweeted that they had demanded nothing outside the ‘Agenda of Alliance’, Mehbooba, it is learnt, asked for status quo on Article 370, return of two power projects apart from announcing smart cities and a loosening of the purse strings. Unofficially, the Government of India had conveyed to Mehbooba that the twin cities, Jammu and Srinagar, would be covered under the smart cities project but there was no commitment on project projects.
“Modi wanted that the demands should come through an elected government, not a political party. Now, there is a huge trust deficit between the two former alliance partners and government formation is unlikely,” sources told Kashmir Reader.
It was learnt that during deliberations between Amit Shah and Mehbooba in New Delhi on Thursday evening, the former “could gauge” Mehbooba was “not interested” in forming the government. She was reportedly adamant in her approach and wanted to extract an assurance.
A source said Mehbooba knew beforehand that the BJP would not accept her demands but she wanted to put it on record because her party legislators are insisting that she should stitch together the alliance again.
A New Delhi-based BJP leader said they have no option but to stay out of the government as negotiations have failed. “We are desperate to stitch the alliance again but that doesn’t mean the PDP can set demands. We are committed to the Agenda of Alliance and that will happen within its own time,” he said.
The Agenda of Alliance, framed by BJP’s Kashmir minder Ram Madhav and former finance minister Haseeb Drabu, is a governance document between the two parties. Repeatedly, Mehbooba had made it clear that that she would continue the alliance her father, late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had entered into 10 months ago only after she is given guarantees by New Delhi that state-centric CBMs will be announced before she assumes charge.
In New Delhi, Madhav said the responsibility of government formation lies with the PDP, which has the chief ministerial post.
“The Centre is always ready to look into the demands of a state government, but meeting demands as a condition for government formation is not acceptable,” he told reporters. However, a top PDP leader sought to counter that impression, saying that ‘hatdharmi’ (stubbornness) was being displayed by Modi, not Mehbooba.