As the impasse over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir entered the 12th day today, National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah asked Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti not to “dilly-dally” and that she should recommend fresh polls if she is “unable or unwilling” to become chief minister.
“So why is the state under central rule? What are you waiting for, Mehbooba?”, the former chief minister asked, adding she should “either rise to the occasion or else step back. The people of the state cannot be expected to wait for you to make up your mind.” Omar also said he would be “terrified” if he were in Mehbooba’s place.
“To dilly-dally is the biggest disservice you can do” to people of the state as they should not be denied an elected government.
“If you are unable or unwilling to assume the responsibilities that are being placed on your shoulders, then you must do your duty to the people, recommend to His Excellency The Governor to dissolve the Assembly, and let the people make a fresh decision in an election,” he said.
The NC working president’s salvo at Mehbooba came in an open letter to her even as she continued to keep a studied silence on government formation and a senior PDP leader saying the party was looking for “concrete assurances” from the Centre on the issues listed in the Agenda of Alliance with BJP.
As suspense mounted, president of state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sat Sharma said the government will be in place very soon.
Union Minister Najma Heptulla visited Mufti’s residence to condole the death of her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 but she maintained that she had not come with any message from the Centre over government formation.
In his letter, Omar said Mehbooba’s reluctance to step up and take charge meant that in less than a year, the state had to be placed under central rule again.
“No state should be denied an elected government, but I took some consolation from the belief, alas mistaken, that central rule would be a short-lived affair and you would take over after the four days of mourning,” he said.
Omar asked Mehbooba what she was waiting for when her party’s alliance with the BJP stands and no fresh negotiations are taking place.
“Thank you for clarifying that no new demands are being made of your allies, that no concessions are being sought. At least we know that it will be business as usual when the business of governing resumes,” said.
Omar said taking over now is not a sign of being power hungry, “but not taking over is certainly an abuse of the trust the people placed in you and your party”.
Mehbooba Mufti was in the process of reviewing the implementation of the Agenda during the 10-month-rule of PDP-BJP government headed by her father and a decision would be taken in due course, a senior PDP leader said.
At the same time, the PDP leader, who did not wish to be named, said it was “highly unlikely” that PDP and BJP would form the next government till “we receive concrete assurances on key issues flagged by our party leader Naeem Akhtar last week”.