Sonia Gandhi's Meeting With Mehbooba Mufti Fuels Suspense In Srinagar

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Sonia Gandhi's Meeting With Mehbooba Mufti Fuels Suspense In Srinagar

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The meetings are being seen as politically significant because Jammu and Kashmir is under governor's rule since Friday.

Srinagar:  Congress president Sonia Gandhi and union minister Nitin Gadkari had separate meetings with People's Democratic Party or PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday to offer condolences on the death of her father and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

The meetings are being seen as politically significant because Jammu and Kashmir is under governor's rule since Friday. Ms Mufti, who was earlier supposed to take oath as the state's first woman chief minister on Monday, had declined yesterday to take oath at the end of the four day mourning period after her father's death. Mr Sayeed had died in New Delhi on Thursday morning after remaining under critical care for days.

She is not expected to take oath for the entire next week. The delay has set off speculation of political realignment in the state. Mr Sayeed headed a PDP-BJP coalition that formed the government last year.
 

Nitin Gadkari and Mehbooba Mufti (PTI photo)

The PDP and the Congress were in alliance from 2002 to 2008.  Mrs Gandhi was accompanied by party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, Saifuddin Soz and the party's state unit chief GA Mir. The Congress leaders spent 15 minutes with her. Mr Azad said the meeting was "just to offer prayers and condolences" to Ms Mufti. Sources in the Congress said the party chief's visit was personal in nature because Mr Sayeed "was face of Congress for decades in the state" and "there no politics in it."

Mr Gadkari was accompanied by Nirmal Singh, who was Mr Sayeed's deputy in the government. "I assured Mehboobaji of all the help and fulfilment of expectations they have of the Government of India," he said after the meeting. "This is not the day for politics."

Ms Mufti, who has been chosen by her party to lead the government, had met Mr Gadkari's party colleague Ram Madhav on Friday. She is said to have told him that the BJP should not rake up sensitive issues and asked for more central assistance for the state. Mr Madhav is one of the engineers of the PDP-BJP alliance.

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