April 2017 News

Mehbooba Meets Modi, Signals PDP-BJP Alliance Going Strong

24 April 2017
Times of India
Akhilesh Singh

New Delhi: Dispelling speculation on PDP-BJP ties, PM Narendra Modi and J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti discussed measures to deal with violent protests even as both sides seemed to agree that political engagement would be difficult till some semblance of normalcy returned. The discussions came on a day when PDP leader Abdul Ghani Dar was shot dead in Pulwama in an alarming return of 'political assassinations' in the Valley. The assassination seemed intended to force PDP's hand on its alliance with BJP. After the meeting, Mehbooba said she is open to talks with stakeholders as confrontation could not be permanent but added this was not possible amid firing and stone-pelting. 'Let the situation improve first,' she said. However, sources said separatists and Pakistan were keen to keep the situation turbulent. Despite the continued violent protests and the separatist stance adopted by PDP's rival National Conference and tensions over issues such as cow vigilantism and attacks on Kashmiri students in some campuses outside the state, PDP and BJP leaderships remain engaged. Breaking the BJP-PDP alliance may be a political signal but whether PDP can benefit from such a move remains uncertain as the alternative is a spell of central rule. After meeting Modi, Mehbooba recalled the contribution of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in promoting peace in the Valley and was in agreement that reconciliation is the best solution. As voters virtually boycotted the recent Srinagar bypolls with a barely 2% turnout, the issue figured prominently in the talks. 'Discussed with PM Modi the issue of less voting percentage in recent elections, and security situation in J&K. Next two-three months will be crucial for us. Spoke to HM regarding this,we need everyone's support for improving situation,' said Mehbooba. BJP's J&K in-charge, Ram Madhav, said, 'There are some issues regarding MLC elections. We noticed lack of communication and will address it,' he said.