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Is PDP-BJP alliance over without a formal divorce?

Jammu/Srinagar Feb 18 (IANS) Has Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti finally decided not to claim power in Jammu and Kashmir and thereby call off the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) without a formal announcement? Recent developments suggest she may have.

On Sunday, the Muftis observed the 40th-day mourning of late state chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Mehbooba Mufti went with only members of her immediate family to the Dara Shikoh Park in south Kashmir Bijbehara town to offer ‘Fateha’ prayers at her father’s grave.

All senior leaders of the PDP were conspicuous by their absence during her visit to Bijbehara. Instead, senior leaders and former ministers went to offer ‘Fateha’ prayers at 11 a.m. while the Mufti family had already returned to their residence in Srinagar city.

Sources said Mehbooba Mufti has virtually been out of communication with party’s senior leaders recently.

When BJP state president, Sat Pal Sharma and former deputy chief minister, Nirmal Singh called on Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday in Srinagar, insiders said, she simply refused to be drawn into any discussion regarding government formation in the state.

“She has not been meeting senior colleagues of her party during the recent days. What is in her mind is anybody’s guess, but in all likelihood it appears she does not want to head the alliance government with the BJP who have so far failed to offer any assurances to her on future arrangement between the two parties”, said a PDP source believed to be close to Mehbooba Mufti.

The source said most former ministers and legislators both from the PDP and the BJP are in favour of an early government formation in the state while Ms Mufti seems to be worried more about the future.

“She does not want to lose tomorrow for today. For many leaders in the party, it is a now or never situation. They might never get another chance to become ministers in the state, but she has a long political career ahead,” said another PDP insider.

He said she could not be pushed into taking a decision that would barter away the future of her party for power. “She seriously believes her father was given a raw deal. The promises made to people remained unfulfilled by that centre that did not move beyond words during Mufti Sahib’s tenure”, he added.

The same source said the BJP had not been disclosing its cards clearly after Sayeed’s death.

A BJP source said the party high command is in no hurry to succumb to what these sources call, ‘PDP brinkmanship’.

“We cannot be pushed into anything because an elected government is not in place in the state. Our assurances are already there and mutual trust between the two allies means the PDP must respect and believe our word”, the source said.

He also confirmed that state BJP leaders had been advised by the party high command not to make any speculative statements on government formation in the state.

“It will happen when it has to”, said a senior BJP leader declining to be named.

Given the gradual entrenching of the PDP and the BJP in their stated barriers, the moot point is, even if a government is formed by the two parties how viable and lasting would that be?

The measured silence by both the parties indicates the alliance could be over in Jammu & Kashmir before its divorce is formally announced.

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