The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Manmohan soldiers on

Srinagar, Oct. 20: Manmohan Singh’s Mission Kashmir met with little success on Day I with both the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party refusing to yield any ground and sticking to their claims to the chief minister’s post.

The former Union finance minister, who has been deputed by Sonia Gandhi to turn Mufti Mohammad Sayeed around and broker an alliance between the two parties, met the PDP chief for an hour at his Nowgam residence this afternoon. After the meeting, the veteran Congress leader said: “My talks with Mufti will continue tomorrow.”

Mufti refused comment.

Sources here said the leaders failed to resolve their differences over the issues of the chief ministerial candidate and the common minimum programme (CMP). “There are still serious differences over the chief ministerial candidate and the CMP and no headway was made in the hour-long meeting over these crucial issues. Singh put forth some new proposals and these will now be discussed in the meeting of senior PDP leaders tomorrow,” said a source close to Mufti.

The PDP claims Mufti should head the new government, but the Congress has already named Ghulam Nabi Azad as its candidate for the hot seat.

Immediately after his arrival here, Singh drove to Hotel Broadway and held detailed talks with senior Congress leaders and the newly-elected MLAs. A senior leader present at the meeting said Singh was told that “there will be no compromise on the chief ministerial candidate”.

“There are differences on the CMP, too, as a majority of Jammu MLAs are against the release of militants and the disbanding of the special operations group (SOG),” he added.

Talking to reporters, Congress MLA Peerzada Mohammad Sayed said his party was hopeful of getting the support of all the Independents from Jammu as well as the Valley and “we will soon stake claim for forming the new government. We will get the figure 44 (the majority mark in the 87-member Assembly)”.

Sayed, however, made it clear that his party will have no alliance with either the National Conference or the BJP. “We will never seek their support for forming the new government in the state.”

Reacting to reports that the Congress was waiting for a split in the PDP to rustle up the required number, PDP spokesman Tariq Hamid Qarrar said: “Let them try this, they will only be disappointed. None of our MLAs will join them. These are only rumours being floated.”

With no government in sight even 10 days after the people’s verdict became clear, Governor G.C. Saxena yesterday said there was no deadline for major political parties to stake claim for forming a government.

He said the doors for staking claim to form the government are open beyond October 21.


But the parties staking claim will have to satisfy me about their prospect of winning the vote of confidence on the floor of the Assembly,” Saxena told reporters yesterday.

As the political temperature rose in the state, militants, too, turned on the heat after a brief slump in violence by killing two securitymen in Srinagar this evening. Police said militants shot a constable of the state police near the Khanyar shrine in the old city and struck again in the Dalgate locality, killing a CRPF soldier.

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