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Srinagar, March 2, 2015 (Agencies)  Putting aside their respective stated positions, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-BJP coalition came together to take the reins of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed taking oath as the chief minister.

The swearing-in ceremony, in which 25 ministers of Mufti cabinet were administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor N N Vohra, was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah, former deputy prime minister L K Advani and several other high-profile BJP and PDP leaders.

Modi, while wishing the PDP patriarch and his team, said, “The PDP-BJP govt is a historic opportunity to fulfil the aspirations of the people of J&K and take the state to new heights of progress.”

Thirteen legislators, including Mufti, from the PDP and 12 from the BJP-Peoples Conference alliance were sworn in as ministers. While Mufti would be the chief minister for the entire six-year tenure, BJP’s Nirmal Singh will be the deputy chief minister. 

The ceremony was boycotted by the opposition National Conference (NC) and the Congress. Sources maintained that NC working president and former chief minster Omar Abdullah was annoyed for not getting a personal invitation from Mufti. However, state Congress chief Saif-ud-Din Soz, who is speculated to be on his way out, attended the event held at Zorawar auditorium of Jammu University.

Separatist-turned-politician Sajjad Lone took oath as a Cabinet minister from the BJP quota. After the swearing-in ceremony, Lone received a tight-hug from the prime minister. This is the second time octogenarian Mufti would be heading a government in the state. Earlier, he had headed the PDP-Congress alliance in 2002 before he was replaced by Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2005. 

With Mufti government taking over, the 49-day Governor’s Rule ended in the state. Soon after taking oath, Mufti said engaging separatists in dialogue process was part of the common minimum programme (CMP). “Pakistan, Hurriyat and militants allowed conducive atmosphere for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir,” Sayeed said at a press conference that was held to unveil the coalition agenda– the CMP. 

“We want to make the alliance a turning point in history to win the hearts and minds of all the people of the state,” he said. When asked about AFSPA revocation, he remarked, “The Army will be made accountable for its actions.”

Mufti, who has the distinction of being the first and, till now, the only Muslim home minister of the country, wanted an alliance with the BJP given that the saffron party had swept the Jammu region, while majority of his party’s seats came from the Kashmir.

In the fractured verdict, the PDP was the largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member House while the BJP won 25. The NC bagged 15 and the Congress 12. The Sajjad Lone-led PC won two seats.

The forming of a power-sharing alliance between two parties espousing diametrically opposite ideologies, which Sayeed called as “the coming together of North Pole and South Pole”, was a tough task for leaders of both the parties.


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