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J&K: Mehbooba Mufti, Ram Madhav hold talks; Governor asks parties to make position clear

PTI 09 Jan 2016, 8:32:03 IST

Srinagar: Moves for new government formation in Jammu and Kashmir gathered momentum on Friday with Governor N N Vohra asking PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and state BJP chief to make their position clear on the issue.

As the state was in mourning following the demise of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba was reluctant to be sworn-in at least till the fourth day of the mourning, allies PDP and BJP held discussions on the way forward. Raj Bhavan sources said the Governor has written to Mehbooba and state BJP chief Sat Pal Sharma seeking their formal stand on the new government formation.

"Besides being in touch with the leadership of the coalition government partners, Governor N N Vohra has also addressed letters by fax to Mehbooba Mufti, President PDP and Sat Pal Sharma, President BJP, to urgently inform him about their respective positions regarding formation of the new Government," a Rajbhawan spokesman said.

On Thursday, a delegation of PDP met the Governor and gave a letter which said all the 28 MLAs backed Mehbooba for the Chief Ministership. Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, who had played a key role in cobbling the coalition, held a meeting with party MLAs but deferred discussions on the succession issue till the four-day mourning period, according to Sharma.

"We will take it up after the fourth day of mourning," he said. In view of the flux in the situation, there is a possibility that the state may come under a brief spell of President's Rule. Giving reasons for delay in government formation, senior

PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig said it would not be right to expect Mehbooba to take oath before the customary four days of mourning.

"How can we expect or advise her to take oath now? She has a family to console and give strength to" the Lok Sabha member from Baramulla told reporters.

The PDP president was not "power hungry" and everything will happen in due course, said Baig, a renowned lawyer, while dismissing suggestions that the state was heading for a constitutional crisis in the absence of a Chief Minister.

"What we have is a constitutional technicality. The Governor can become the caretaker till the oath-taking ceremony takes place," he said. Before chairing the closed-door meeting with BJP legislators, Madhav told reporters he held discussions over government formation with PDP leadership but refused to divulge any details.

"I went to meet Mehbooba to express my condolences on the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. We had some discussions over the future of the government but I will not be able to share more details about these deliberations right now," he said. "When the time comes, we will let you know," Madhav said.

Asked if there was any constitutional crisis in the absence of a government in the state, he said the Governor will be in a position to comment on it. Meanwhile, opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah questioned the BJP stand on government formation saying the PDP president should be allowed to grieve her father's death.

"Why is BJP forcing this uncertainty on the state? Mehbooba, understandably, needs time to grieve but these guys?" Omar wrote on Twitter.