Mufti Mohammed Sayeed to be sworn-in as J & K CM on March 1

NEW DELHI: The People’s Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party have kept their Agenda for  Alliance in Jammu & Kashmir under  wraps even as the stage is fully set for PDP supremo Mufti Mohammed Sayeed to be sworn-in as Chief Minister on March 1, a Sunday.

The oath-taking ceremony of the first-ever PDP-BJP coalition is scheduled to be held at 11 am in J & K’s winter capital, Jammu.  This follows a historic meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Sayeed at 7 Race Course Road on Friday when the two leaders gave their formal approval to the Agenda thrashed out after 20 meetings between representatives of the two parties.

The Agenda for Alliance will be released at a joint press conference at 3 pm on Sunday, that is immediately after the swearing-in function. This is aimed at averting the possibility of fringe elements from either side derailing the formation of the coalition Government by criticizing the Agenda.

The BJP is already chary of the censure it may face for diluting its long-held stand for abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution conferring special status on Kashmir. Without changing its stand, the BJP may agree not to rake up this issue as long as the Mufti-led Government is in power for the next six years.

Many sticking points between the two             

There are other sticking points like scrapping or at least diluting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), rehabilitation of West Pakistan refugees and resuming dialogue with Pakistan. On AFPSA, the two parties reportedly agreed to gradual replacement of the military with the local police and paramilitary forces in areas where the security situation has improved.

Details of how these issues have been resolved will be known only when the Agenda for Alliance, or the Common Minimum Programme as Mr. Mufti called it, becomes available in public domain.

It is understood that the PDP wants the Modi Government to resume the dialogue process with Pakistan from where former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee left off and hold talks with the  Hurriyat leaders too. However, the PDP assured that it will work within the framework of the Indian Constitution.

At their meeting, Mr. Mufti invited the Prime Minister to attend the swearing-in ceremony to which the latter reportedly agreed. It is likely that a 25-member Council of Ministers, including 13 from PDP and 12 from BJP will be sworn-in with Mr. Nirmal Singh of the saffron party taking oath as Deputy Chief Minister.

A relaxed Mr. Mufti told reporters after his meeting with the Prime Minister that theirs was a political alliance too but added that it was early to take a call on whether the PDP would join the NDA Government.

Repeating the BJP’s slogan of sab ka saath sab ka vikas, he said, the Prime Minister had won the mandate of the people of the country and had full legitimacy to decide on this alliance and adding that “this had to be done’”. “We will now give a healing touch to the State,” he said.

The framework for the alliance was drafted by PDP’s Haseeb Drabu and BJP’s Ram Madhav after prolonged negotiations after the Assembly elections gave a fractured verdict two months ago. The PDP won 28 seats and BJP 25 in the 87 member house. Sajjad Lone led Peoples Conference – an ally of the BJP – won two seats.

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