With Congress president Sonia Gandhi visiting Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on January 10 afternoon and offering condolences, it has given rise to speculation that talks are going on between the Congress and the PDP. All state Congress leaders and the party’s MLAs and the MLCs were present at Mehbooba’s Fairview residence when Sonia met Mehbooba. The 20-minute-long meeting between Sonia Gandhi and the PDP president has generated hope among the state Congress leaders about possible alliance with the PDP. It has also created fears among the state BJP leaders of losing power. After all it is for the first time the BJP is in power in the state and its leaders are enjoying the power.
But PDP leaders are issuing statements in private and public to dampen the spirits of state Congress leaders and keep hopes of the state BJP leaders alive.
“PDP’s ideology is whatever Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has stated and whatever decision including his decision to have alliance with the BJP Mufti has taken will be taken to the logical conclusion,” says PDP youth wing leader Wahid Parra.
PDP MLA, Ejaz Ahmad Mir, who fought and won from Wachi constituency of south Kashmir, which is Mehbooba’s constituency, also has similar views about the alliance with the BJP. He argues that the alliance with the BJP would continue as legacy of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
“Working with the BJP is far simpler and less complicated,” says former minister for finance and senior PDP leader Haseeb Drabu when asked whether Congress is an option for the PDP indicating that the party leadership at present has no thoughts about breaking an alliance with the BJP.
The PDP leaders insist that nothing political should be read in the condolence meeting between Congress Sonia and Mehbooba. They argue that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had a long association with Congress dating back to 1960s so much so that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had visited Muftis at their ancestral house in Bijbehara indicating the relations between the two families. They say Sonia and Mehbooba have good personal relations.
However, the bonhomie between the two leaders and the concern shown by the Congress at this juncture is seen by the PDP as a welcome change and indications for future tie-ups if cracks develops between the PDP and the BJP alliance.
With Congress having 12 members and PDP 28, together they would have get four independent members to reach 44 to form the government which would not be difficult for both to get. With Sonia’s closeness to Mehbooba now clear to all, the PDP leaders presume that the BJP would tread a cautious path while dealing with it.
But for now the alliance with the BJP is intact and within a few days, if the PDP leaders are to be believed, Mehbooba will make up her mind to take oath as chief minister of the PDP-BJP alliance.