As suspense over formation of new government in Jammu and Kashmir continued, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti was today visited by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for mourning but the meetings were seen with political significance.
The meetings took place even as BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh expressed confidence that the alliance with PDP will continue as he said the party has written to Governor N N Vohra saying it will have a discussion on whatever decision the the ally takes.
Gandhi, who arrived from Delhi, drove straight from the airport to the Fairview residence of Mehbooba in Gupkar here at 3 pm. She stayed with the PDP president for about 20 minutes and paid rich tributes to her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who passed away last Thursday.
Gandhi, whose party ran a coalition government with PDP between 2002 and 2008, described Mufti as a “fine administrator committed to the welfare of the people” of the state and one who reflected the best of Indian values rooted in respect for diversity and anchored in tolerance.
Noting that in 2002 he had committed to provide a ‘healing touch’ as Chief Minister, she said, “Mufti Saheb cut across party boundaries. He was beyond party affiliations. He belonged to everybody.”
Gandhi was accompanied by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, party general secretary Ambika Soni, state Congress chief G A Mir and party leader Saifuddin Soz.
Azad later said “there is no politics in this and no politics should be understood of this (meeting). We have come here only for condoling and there is no other motive.”
Gandhi had come here as Mehbooba has had long association with her and Congress, he told reporters.
Mehbooba and her father were in Congress before floating PDP in 1999. She represented Congress once in Lok Sabha also.
Soon after Gandhi’s meeting, Gadkari, Union Surface Transport Minister and senior BJP leader, visited Mehbooba to offer condolences on the demise of her father.
“It is no time to talk politics. I have come here to convey condolences on behalf of the central government,” he told reporters later.
Recalling his meeting with Mufti in Delhi, Gadkari said the late PDP leader had a dream for the state which included tourism, development and infrastructure among other things.
“We will try to fulfill all the assurances given to him on Jammu and Kashmir,” the minister said.
The meetings are seen as politically significant as BJP, an ally of PDP, has yet not officially extended support to Mehbooba for the Chief Ministership after Mufti’s demise.
Congress earlier shared power with PDP before having a bitter split in 2008.