Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari arrived here on Sunday to pay tributes to the late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on his chahrum , the fourth day of the congregational prayers. In the evening, the process of government formation gathered pace for the first time.
The Mufti’s daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, an MP and PDP president, attended the special prayers in front of her father’s grave in Darashikoh Bagh in Anantnag district, the hometown of the former Chief Minister. Senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh and PDP rebel MP Tariq Hameed Karra were also present.
Meeting Ms. Mufti at her residence later, Mr. Gadkari dropped hints at the continuation of the coalition. “This is not the time to discuss politics. We have come to express our condolences…The dream of the Mufti sahib for Jammu and Kashmir will be fulfilled,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni, the AICC general secretary in charge of the Congress in the State, accompanied Ms. Gandhi to the PDP president’s residence in the afternoon.
“Mufti sahib had a dream to bring India and Pakistan closer, and the party intends to pursue it. It’s not possible to work on this front with the Congress but only with the BJP at this time,” said a senior PDP leader on the Sonia-Mehbooba meeting.
The Mufti’s political adviser, Waheed Parra, said: “The PDP-BJP alliance will be pursued but the swearing-in of Ms. Mehbooba may take a little time.”
Top sources in the BJP in New Delhi confirmed to The Hindu that at the meeting between Ms. Mehbooba and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav two days ago, “neither preconditions were set nor succession plans discussed,” as Ms. Mehbooba sought time to take the final decision.
Meanwhile, a Raj Bhavan spokesman said Governor N.N. Vohra will meet all administrative secretaries on Monday morning, a sign of delay in the swearing-in. All eyes are on Tuesday, January 12, the birthday of the Mufti, and the party is likely to complete the formalities for government formation by then.