Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Union minister Nitin Gadkari called on Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief delayed taking charge as the new chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir after the death of her father, setting off speculations of a political re-alignment in the state.
Congress and PDP leaders called Gandhi’s 30-minute visit to Mehbooba’s home in Srinagar’s Gupkar a “purely personal meeting that has nothing to do with politics”.
After Gandhi, Union minister Gadkari went to Mehbooba’s home and was there for about 15 minutes.
PDP sources said there was no clarity yet on government formation despite a late-night meeting of party workers and legislators at her home. Mehbooba made a brief appearance and avoided talking politics.
“Mufti Sahib was her guide, mentor, anchor and friend. She needs time to get out of the shock,” a senior party leader said.
Mehbooba was unwilling to take oath as the next chief minister until the four-day mourning period ended on Sunday, with the fateha or special prayers at Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s native village of Bijbehara where thousands of people congregated.
Political analysts attributed Sunday’s turnout to Mehbooba’s perceived tough stand on government formation with the BJP.
The PDP was apparently disappointed, and shocked, with the “thin attendance” at the late chief minister’s funeral on Thursday afternoon and some party functionaries wanted to sever the alliance with the BJP.
Analysts thought the delay could be a “pressure tactic by the PDP to avoid any renegotiation with the BJP” because several leaders of its ally were reportedly hankering after better portfolios.
The BJP, which has agreed to back Mehbooba as Sayeed’s successor, has kept the suspense growing by not officially confirming its support in writing to governor NN Vohra.

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