New Delhi: Setting the stage for the installation of PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed today shook hands and hugged each other noting that the coalition was like "bringing together of North Pole and South Pole".
79-year-old Sayeed will take oath as the state's Chief Minister along with 12 members each from PDP and BJP at Jammu at a ceremony to be attended by Modi. BJP's Nirmal Singh is expected to be the Deputy Chief Minister.
The two parties, bitter rivals in the past, have held intense negotiations since December when the election verdict resulted in a hung Assembly, to put together the coalition on the basis of Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which will be released on Sunday. The CMP will cover all controversial issues like Article 370, Armed Forces Special Powers Act and resettlement of West Pakistan Refugees.
Reflecting the difficulties they faced, Sayeed said after an hour-long meeting with the Prime Minister that the coalition was like "bringing together North Pole and South Pole". He made it clear that the coalition was first a political alliance and then an alliance for governance.
"It (the alliance) is both for political and governance. First political and then governance. When political atmosphere will be right then only governance will take place," Sayeed, who later met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also visited the residence of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said.
When asked about Article 370 which gives special status to the state and AFSPA, Sayeed said, "Leave these issues. These are not issues. We have to do all this (hame karna padta hai)...All this will come in the CMP which will be announced after the swearing-in."
BJP's chief interlocutor on talks with PDP Ram Madhav also skirted questions on decisions taken on controversial issues saying that "one needs to wait till Sunday and see for themselves that there has been no compromise. Both the parties, which are diametrically opposite, have arrived at a common ground on contentious issues."
"We have reached an excellent understanding," Madhav said and also clarified that the CMP had the "blessings" of all stake holders including the Sangh Parivar.
Madhav said it was an alliance for governance but "no
doubt there has been a political accommodation on both sides in it without compromising anywhere."
The PDP patron said he aims to give a "healing touch" as anguish in one part of the huge country is not a good thing.
"My view was that an opportunity has come that Jammu region and Kashmir region will come together. If BJP got mandate in Jammu and PDP in Kashmir Valley, therefore they have got support of people. There is credibility. When they will merge, it will be de jure. It takes six hours from Jammu to the Valley, but opportunity is there to connect hearts and minds of people," he said.
Sayeed said second aspect is when former Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Kashmir in 2002-03, he started a journey of friendship in Srinagar.
"He extended a hand of friendship towards Pakistan, saying we can change friends but not our neighbours. So (the then Pakistan President Pervez) Musharraf also responded. It is the dream of the Prime Minister and mine to develop Kashmir as an 'island of peace'. So, in that process, it is necessary to engage Pakistan," he said.
"....So I want to repeat history. Today, the Prime Minister has mandate of the people. He has got full legitimacy to deliver," he said.
Opposition party National Conference, in the meanwhile, took a dig at the alliance saying that PDP leaders had been claiming that the CMP will be released before the swearing-in ceremony.
Working President of NC and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wondered what made Sayeed to say that people of Kashmir are happy with his alliance with the BJP.
"Where are the celebrations on the streets of Jammu and Kashmir? There should have been spontaneous eruption of joy on both sides of the mountains.
"I'm sure a few crackers will be organised between now and Sunday but the general reaction is decidedly muted," Omar tweeted.