Mehbooba’s oath ceremony delayed

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SRINAGAR:  After politics and hard bargaining stalled government formation in Jammu and Kashmir for weeks, stellar configurations could cause a new delay in an oath ceremony for Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP and her council of ministers.

Sources said leaders of the PDP or Peoples Democratic Party’s ally, the BJP, are not terribly enthusiastic about being sworn in before the Navratra festival begins next week. The days preceding the Navratas are considered inauspicious for new beginnings.

This could mean a delay of at least 8 to 10 more days before J&K gets a government. Sources said the Raj Bhawan has been informed that the swearing-in ceremony will take place  between April 4 and April 11.

Officially, the BJP has said it needs time to discuss logistics. “We shall sit together (with the PDP) and discuss logistics and various things on how to form the government,” said Nirmal Singh, senior BJP leader who will be deputy chief minister in Ms Mufti’s government.

On Saturday, Mehbooba Mufti, who will head the PDP-BJP government as chief minister, met J&K governor NN Vohra, along with Nirmal Singh and staked claim to form the government.

With Mehbooba Mufti having thanked the BJP for its unconditional support and dismissing reports of pending differences, the Opposition now wants to know what is delaying government formation.

“They are still looking for an auspicious day, when this alliance itself is unholy and inauspicious. How will any auspicious day help this government run for a longer period,” said Ravinder Sharma, Congress spokesperson.

For almost three months after her father and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Saeed’s death in January this year, Ms Mufti refused to take oath, setting conditions for the renewal of the PDP’s partnership with ideological opposite, the BJP.

The BJP stood its ground that the alliance in J&K could not be linked to demands from the Centre, where the party leads a National Democratic Alliance government.

The breakthrough came after Ms Mufti’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.

The PDP and BJP came together last year after J&K gave no party a majority in assembly elections.

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