Tuesday, October 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Deadlock continues
Mufti says no to ‘CM by rotation’
S.P. Sharma
Tribune, News Service

Srinagar, October 21
There was no breakthrough in the talks between the senior Congress leader, Dr Manmohan Singh, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, here on the second day of their discussion on forming a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir. Both sides refused to budge on the issue of chief ministership.

Dr. Manmohan Singh and the CLP leader, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, left for Delhi after the luncheon meeting held at the residence of the Mufti to apprise the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, about the outcome of the talks.

Sources said the Congress offered the formula to the Mufti that the post of chief minister could be held by the two parties by rotation. However, the Mufti was adamant that the PDP having won more seats in the Kashmir Valley should be given the chief ministership.

Dr Manmohan Singh refused to tell anything more, saying: “Both sides have given their suggestions and these will be put before the Congress high command for approval”.

He said the minimum common programme was also discussed at the meeting. The people in the state want that the issue should be solved at the earliest, he added.

While Dr Manmohan Singh had come to the Mufti’s residence alone yesterday, he was accompanied by Mr Azad today. However, the meeting was held on one-to-one basis between Dr Manmohan Singh and the Mufti.

Before coming for the meeting, Dr Manmohan Singh called on the Panthers Party chief Mr Bhim Singh, at the tourist reception centre here. Later, Mr Bhim Singh along with his four MLAs held a meeting with Manmohan Singh and Mr Azad in a local hotel. The seven-member Democratic Forum headed by Mr Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, CPM MLA, also met Dr.Manmohan Singh to discuss the situation.

Ms Mehbooba Mufti, Vice-President of the PDP refused to say anything about the meeting. But Mr Muzaffar Hussain Beg, an MLA of the PDP and a member of the Political Affairs Committee of the party, said it was not proper to divulge anything about the talks as the negotiations were still going on.

He denied that there was any division in the PDP over the issue of coalition with the Congress. He claimed that the PDP was not claiming chief ministership on regional basis.

Earlier in the morning a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the PDP refused to soften its stand on the issue of chief ministership and decided that the party should sit in the Opposition instead of toeing the line of the Congress.

Dr Manmohan Singh along with Mr Azad called on the Governor, Mr G.C. Saxena, in the morning, but they did not attach any political significance to the meeting which was described as a courtesy call.

Mr Bhim Singh made it clear to Dr Manmohan Singh that the support of his party’s four MLAs was conditional as they would back the coalition only if the chief minister was from Jammu.

Mr Tarigami said various proposals were discussed with Dr Manmohan Singh and he made it clear that the mandate was not in favour of a single party but was for a change. It was the responsibility of the Congress and the PDP to narrow down their differences to meet the aspirations of the people.


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