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mehbooba mufti
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. (Image: IANS)

Decks were cleared on Thursday for PDP President Mehbooba Mufti to take over as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir after she was unanimously elected as the legislature party leader and nominated as the party’s CM candidate.

56-year-old Mehbooba was elected as the leader of PDP Legislature Party at a meeting of the senior leaders, which included MPs, MLAs and MLCs, at her residence here.

PDP will now need a letter of support from BJP — seen as a mere formality — to become the first woman chief minister of the state.

“A meeting of all the senior leaders of PDP was held. During the meeting, the legislators of the party decided that Mehbooba Mufti should be the leader of the legislature party and should be nominated as a candidate for the post of chief minister of the state,” senior party leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig told reporters after the one-and-a-half-hour long meeting.

Baig said the “dye has been cast” and formation of a democratically elected government is a mere formality.

“Now the only thing that is to be done is to meet the Governor. Mehbooba Mufti and the leader of BJP have to fix a date for swearing in (ceremony),” he said.

“It is only a formality. The dye has been cast and we expect that in the very near future a political government will be in the seat,” he said.

Asked about the conditions laid by PDP for government formation, Baig said, “No, no…The Agenda of the Alliance is very comprehensive. There is no need to put any new issue.”

The Lok Sabha member from Baramulla said BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav was right in saying that there were no new conditions for government formation.

“He (Ram Madhav) is right, there are no new conditions. The Agenda of Alliance was formed after a detailed meeting between (late chief minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the Prime Minister.

“Nothing can be added to it and nothing can be removed from it,” he added.

The fast track developments since Tuesday — when Mehbooba met the Prime Minister — have put an end to the nearly three-month-long stalemate between PDP and BJP which surfaced following the death of Sayeed, on January 7, this year.

The state was put under Governor’s Rule and the Assembly was kept in suspended animation on January 8.

In the wake of Sayeed’s death, PDP had sought assurances on a timeframe for implementation of the Agenda of Alliance from the Centre before renewing the alliance with BJP for government formation.

Although it is not clear if Mehbooba got the desired assurances from the Prime Minister, the steps towards government formation moved faster as the PDP chief said she was satisfied after meeting the PM.

Earlier, addressing the party legislators, Mehbooba thanked them for all the support during the past three months.

“Mehbooba Mufti is nothing without your support. You are my strength…I thank you for your support over the last three months,” she said.

While PDP has 27 MLAs in the 87-member J-K Assembly, BJP has 25. Two MLAs from People’s Conference led by Sajjad Gani Lone and two Independents had also supported the government under Sayeed.