Sonia Visit to Mehbooba Unnerves BJP

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

Fairview Residence: Sonia Ghandhi with Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday (Jan 10, 2015) to offer condolences on the demise of former CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Fairview Residence: Sonia Ghandhi with Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday (Jan 10, 2015) to offer condolences on the demise of former CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s brief visit to Ms Mehbooba Mufti has unnerved BJP fearing it might end up PDP changing the coalition partner midway. Such a decision could trigger a serious crisis for the BJP in Jammu.

Muftis’ have had age old relationship with the Nehru-Gandhi family and Mufti Sayeed for most of his political career has remained Indira’s man in Kashmir. Even after Mufti resigned from Congress, his PDP later shared power with Congress for more than five years.

The tensions in BJP were so serious that Ghulam Nabi Azad had to clarify that his visit to Bijbehara was to pay respect to his political mentor and should not be taken as political. Azad, it may be recalled here, was baptized into Congress by Mufti. Azad accompanied Ms Gandhi to Mehbooba’s residence Sunday afternoon.

Sources said that after Mufti’s demise, BJP at the local level and a section at national level, had started taking of a fresh bargain. Though details of the new conditions were not revealed fully, it had contributed to the ‘trust’ deficit.

Nitin Gadkari in Fairview.
BJP’s Union Surface Transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, at Fairview residence of Muftis on Jan 10, 2015.

Informed sources said when Raj Bhawan sent a senior official to a top BJP leader seeking their support letter for Mehbooba they had reportedly sought more time insisting they will have to talk to the central leadership first. This added to the tensions.

This was the main reason, sources said, why Ms Mufti was initially not so interested in having a meeting with Ram Madhav. The meeting, however, later continued for around an hour.

On Sunday, top BJP leader Nitin Gadkari drove to Fairview within minutes after Ms Gandhi left the venue. He stayed with Ms Mufti and her family for nearly half an hour. Perhaps the only political being who spoke to media later, Gadkari talked about the dreams that Mufti Sayeed had shared with him in his last meeting in Delhi. “We will do our best to realize the dreams that Mufti Sahab had seen for his state,” Gadkari said.

Sajjad-Lone-with-Narendra-Modi-and-Mufti-Sayeed
Swearing-in-ceremony of PDP-BJP Cabinet on March 01, 2015 which was attended by PM Narendra Modi.

But given the situation that Ms Mufti is not giving her mind to anybody, within or outside the party, the tensions in the right-wing party are at its peak. Though the party leaders are meeting almost on daily basis, both formally and informally, in Srinagar as well as in Jammu, it has stopped talking to media. Insiders said Ram Madhav in his brief meeting with his lawmakers had categorically sought an assurance that neither of them will talk to the media. This was aimed at preventing any further tension in the coalition.

Earlier, PDP senior Muzaffar Hussain Baig has stated that he would be surprised if BJP suggested a fresh bargain.

CM Mufti's last tour of Srinagar. His last photo when he addressed a rally at Municipal Park in Srinagar after which he fell ill and was flown to AIIMS, New Delhi.
CM Mufti’s last tour of Srinagar. His last photo when he addressed a rally at Municipal Park in Srinagar after which he fell ill and was flown to AIIMS, New Delhi.

Ms Mufti has been mourning for all these days. She has not had any kind of contact with any leader of her party all these days. In fact when she drove to Bijbehara she was literally crying for more than an hour near her father’s grave and was eventually escorted out. Family source said in her father’s death, Ms Mufti sees loss of a friend and mentor.

BJP's Nitin Gadkari and Nirmal Singh with Mehbooba Mufti after the former reached Fairview to offer condolences on the demise of CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and Nirmal Singh with Mehbooba Mufti after the former reached Fairview to offer condolences on the demise of CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

This evening she is expected to meet her party workers. The gathering is more a sort of formal conclusion of the mourning process than a political event. Though it is unlikely that she may talk politics but there is a probability that she may drop some hints if at all she interacts. This is expected to clear some air on the mystery of what happens next.

Sources said that after “speculative reportage” started in certain sections of media, mostly emanating from Delhi, party leadership has instructed all important members to ensure they stay non-committal.

By all available accounts, it seems the new government formation may take more time than anticipated.

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