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BJP-PDP to form Kashmir government, Mufti to be CM March 1

BJP-PDP to form Kashmir government, Mufti to be CM March 1

Jammu/New Delhi: The BJP was poised to create history, getting a partnership role in governing Jammu and Kashmir for the first time as it on Tuesday announced a coalition with the PDP after both arrived at an "agreement on a common minimum programme" to govern the state.

Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed will be sworn in as the chief minister March 1.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah Tuesday announced that both parties had arrived at an agreement for a coalition government, with the BJP for the first time getting a governance role in India's northernmost state.

"We have reached an agreement on a common minimum programme with the PDP and we will form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir," Shah told reporters in New Delhi after meeting PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti.

Shah said a formal announcement will be made "in the next few days" after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sayeed.

Mehbooba Mufti said the new government will work in the national interest, ensuring that the people of Jammu and Kashmir get a clean, corruption-free rule.

"Fortunately we have reached an understanding. The agenda of this alliance is to win the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," she said.

"This is not a power-sharing deal," she added.

The agreement was hammered out after weeks of negotiations, though the two parties have differing ideologies on sensitive subjects like Article 370 on the state's special status and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The PDP has 28 seats, the BJP 25 and the People's Conference two seats in the 87-member state assembly.

A simple majority of 44 is needed to stake claim to form the government.

Jammu and Kashmir was put under governor's rule Jan 8 after no single party or group of political parties came forward to stake claim to form the government.

Top sources in the PDP told IANS that the swearing-in ceremony will be held at the Zorawar Singh Memorial Auditorium of Jammu University.

Sayeed, during his meeting, with Modi will request the prime minister to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the coalition government, a source said.

The prime minister had strongly campaigned in the state for the BJP ahead of the assembly elections.

The names of PDP leaders doing the rounds for cabinet posts are Abdul Rehman Veeri, Naeem Akhtar, Haseeb Drabu, Zulfiqar Choudhary, Abdul Haq Khan and Altaf Bukhari.

Those likely to be sworn in from the BJP are Nirmal Singh as deputy chief minister, Bali Baghat, Sham Choudhary, Kavinder Gupta, Choudhary Lal Singh and Abdul Gani Kohli.

Sources in the BJP said Sajad Gani Lone of the People's Conference, who announced his support to the BJP, is also a hot contender for a ministerial berth in the new state government.

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