With PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed meeting Separatist leader Abdul Ghani Bhat, his party’s talks with the BJP over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir could come under strain.
Sayeed met Bhat on Thursday evening in Srinagar in what was termed by both sides as a courtesy visit.
The PDP said that Sayeed and Bhat were old friends and meet occasionally in that capacity. Politics was not discussed between the two, the PDP stressed. “If two friend meet, is it an issue?” said Sayeed after the meeting.
However, media reports later claimed that Bhat expressed discomfort over PDP’s alliance talks with the BJP.
Importantly, the talks in Srinagar occurred hours after Mehbooba Mufti’s meeting with the Governor in Jammu.
Given the sensitive nature of the informal talks between the two parties, the BJP, expectedly, has chosen to play down the meeting between Sayeed and Bhat.
The party has reason to worry given its staunch opposition to the Separatists– New Delhi had cancelled foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan in protest of Islamabad’s open courting of the Hurriyat.
As Bhat’s Muslim Conference is aligned with the moderate faction of Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the meeting gains added significance.
Reports claimed that the meeting has come as an embarrassment for the separatists as well.
The recent assembly elections in the state had delivered a fractured mandate with the PDP and the BJP winning 28 and 25 seats respectively.