Srinagar, May 18: The BJP on Thursday began testing the waters for the idea of a rotational Chief Minister in J&K. It has been BJP’s long desire to lead the Government in Jammu and Kashmir as many BJP leaders saw the alliance between PDP and BJP as the first step towards it.
On Thursday while Union Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley was chairing a crucial meet on the GST in Srinagar, his ministerial colleague and a closet aspirant for the J&K Chief Minister’s post Dr. Jitendra Singh in an interview to a New Delhi based news channel hinted that the idea was discussed within the BJP.
“No decision in this regard has been taken yet, but the BJP is an organisational party. It is not a kitchen coterie. The decision will be taken at the highest level in due course,” MoS PMO said.
Interestingly, Dr. Singh also went on to say that people in his constituency and elsewhere in Jammu and Ladakh region “did not want to suffer because of terrorism and violence in the Valley”.
The full report on CNN-News18 also said that the idea of a 6-month rotational Chief Minister was also discussed with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her recent trip to New Delhi, but independent verification by The Kashmir Monitor confirmed that no such discussion took place and possibly the source based input to the news channel was BJP’s idea of feeling up PDP’s reaction to the idea of rotational Chief Minister.
Ever since Durbar moved to Jammu last year, there were whispers in the winter capital that the BJP would seek its Chief Minister once the state Government neared the half way mark in 2018. Thursday’s news report was almost on cue with those rumours. Many BJP leaders in J&K have privately been saying that a 6-year-term was agreed upon with late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and not his daughter.
Some within the BJP are also of the opinion that if push comes to shove, it could also project Sajjad Lone as its Chief Ministerial candidate in a bid to keep up with the tradition of J&K having a Muslim Chief Minister. For obvious reasons, Jammu and Jitendra Singh in particular are not warm to this idea.
The PDP though dismissive of the rotational CM idea won’t take the news reports lightly. It has already been bitten its one time ally, the Congress when they asked her father to step down and make way for Ghulam Nabi Azad as the Chief Minister of J&K. The PDP had expected that Congress would allow Mufti to head the PDP-Congress Government for the full term. The party very well knows how dramatically things can change at the last moment.
Many BJP leaders in New Delhi whom Kashmir Monitor spoke to also said that Thursday's play in national media could well be a part of BJP's exit strategy in Kashmir. “If we believe that this alliance is unsustainable, we will raise the rotational chief minister issue. PDP won’t agree and we won’t budge. It suits us", said a BJP leader.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP), chief spokesperson, Mehboob Beg denied any such move and said that these things are already sorted out between the two coalition partners. “I don’t know anything about it and these things are already sorted out. Our focus is to normalize the current situation in the state,” he told The Kashmir Monitor over the phone.