April 2016 News

PDP-BJP 2.0: Mehbooba To Be Sworn-in As J&K's First Woman CM Today

3 April 2016

Jammu: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in as the first Muslim woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, heading a coalition government with BJP in the only Muslim-majority state. The 56-year-old leader, daughter of PDP founder Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, will take oath of office at Raj Bhawan in Jammu at 11.00 AM. Mehbooba assuming office will be a landmark event in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. She will be the first woman to head a government in Jammu and Kashmir and the second Muslim woman to become the Chief Minister of a state in India. Syeda Anwara Taimur was the first Muslim woman CM in Assam in 1980 and continued to hold the chair till June 30, 1981. On Saturday, Governor N N Vohra invited the PDP president to form and lead the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state. 'The Governor's invitation to (Mehbooba) Mufti follows the earlier discussions with the PDP and BJP presidents regarding formation of government in the state and the subsequent communications received from her and Sat Sharma, president, J&K BJP in regard to this matter,' an official spokesman said. The PDP-BJP government can expect a smooth run if the two ideologically opposite parties can avoid controversies that dogged their first brush together with power when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed headed the government for 10 months till his death on January 7. The PDP-BJP coalition, which also has Sajad Gani Lone led Peoples' Conference as a constituent, has 56 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly. The PDP has 27 members while BJP has 25. Peoples' Conference has two MLAs while two other independents are supporting the coalition. The revival of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state - after three months of stalemate - became possible after several rounds of hectic negotiations between the two parties and apparent intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Following Sayeed's death, Governor's Rule was imposed in the state as the PDP and the BJP did not stake fresh claim for government formation in the state. Initially, the two parties maintained that Mehbooba was not in a position to take over the reins of the state as she was mourning her father's death. However, after the mourning period was over, the PDP said it was looking for assurances and confidence building measures from the Centre on implementation of Agenda of Alliance -common minimum programme of the two parties - before forming the new government. Hopes of ending the deadlock were raised when BJP general secretary Ram Madhav arrived in Srinagar in a chartered plane to meet Mehbooba Mufti late in the evening on February 17 but nothing came out of the hour-long meeting. The next high level contact between the two parties came on March 19 when Mehbooba met BJP president Amit Shah. Again the two parties failed to resolve the issues, forcing the BJP to publicly admit for the first time that no headway could be made on government formation. In fact, several PDP leaders went to extent of saying the prospects of an alliance with the BJP were all but over. However, to everyone's surprise, the PDP president went to meet the Prime Minister three days later. Mehbooba emerged from the meeting with the Prime Minister 'satisfied', which shall culminate tomorrow with her swearing in as the Chief Minister.