After a rocky start, the PDP-BJP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir was mired in further controversy on Monday over the demand for return of the mortal remains of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, a red rag to the saffron party.
Notwithstanding a raging row over remarks crediting Pakistan for peaceful elections in the state, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed today remained unfazed saying he stood by what he had said yesterday.
“What I said, I stand by it,” he said after assuming office today in civil Secretariat. However, he appeared to have tempered his yesterday’s remark when he said “this voter slip has been given to us by Constitution of India. The people of state have more faith in this (right).”
As Sayeed’s daughter and PDP Chief, Mehbooba Mufti stood by her father’s statement, remarking he had not said he had not said anything wrong, a group of PDP MLAs came out with a signed statement demanding that the Centre hand over the mortal remains of Guru, who was hanged and buried inside Tihar Jail in Delhi on February nine, 2013.
She, however, admitted that there would be teething problems as both parties had diametrically opposite views on various issues. “We will have teething problems and everything can’t be hunky dory overnight”, she said.
The Government was on the backfoot in Parliament where the Opposition raked up the issue and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a statement on the floor of the House the Centre’s stand.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh distanced the government from Sayeed’s claim and said the credit for peaceful elections in the state should go to the Election Commission, people of the state, Army and the security forces.
Singh said he wanted to make it clear that “the government and my party (BJP) fully disassociate themselves” from the remarks made by Sayeed. Not satisfied with Singh’s reply, the Congress walked out of the Lok Sabha saying only the Prime Minister’s clarification would matter.
Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said since the Prime Minister was told by Sayeed that he feels that the credit should go to Hurriyat, militants and Pakistan for smooth conduct of J and K assembly polls, Modi should make a statement. “Only PM can explain,” he said.
To add to PDP’s discomfort, party MP and senior leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig felt the coalition government has not made a promising beginning with controversy erupting due to statements on both sides.
He said that he would have preferred a clear cut statement on part of the two parties in their Common Minimum Programme (CMP) about talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat and revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act.”
“Let people decide whether the clauses in CMP on these issues are clear cut or whether they are capable of two different meanings, one that suits BJP and another that suits PDP. I would have preferred a clearcut statement and more clarity on these issues,” he told PTI here.
Baig said that coalition government should be based on a “good faith agreement and not on compromise”.
Ram Madhav, who was BJP’s key negotiator for the alliance with PDP, also disagreed with Sayeed’s comments “we attribute it (smooth polls) to three factors, the people of state, security agencies and the election commission.”
Former Chief Minister and Working President of National Conference Omar Abdullah wondered whether Sayeed and his daughter were trying to break the alliance with their remarks on credit to Pakistan.
“Has Mufti decided the Modi-Mufti accord was a mistake? Are the Father-Daughter duo trying to force BJP to break off the alliance? #wondering,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.