OCCUPIED SRI NAGAR: India´s ruling Hindu nationalist party was Sunday sworn into government for the first time in occupied Kashmir after a power-sharing deal with a regional rival.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have forged a coalition government after inconclusive elections two months ago for the IoK.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Muslim head of the PDP, was sworn in as chief minister of the region. In a symbolic gesture he enthusiastically embraced Modi, who was on stage to witness the historic ceremony.
“This is a great day. No one in their wildest dreams ever thought of this,” PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said after the ceremony in the region´s winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
“But I think Mufti Sayeed and the national (BJP) leadership of Modi-ji, they are on a journey to turn around Kashmir,” an upbeat Akhtar told the NDTV network, using a Hindi honorific for respect.
The inauguration, held amid tight security at the University of Jammu, came after weeks of intense negotiations between the two parties which disagree on several critical issues in the region.
Sayeed has described the alliance as the “coming together of the North Pole and the South Pole” while the BJP has hailed the move as a “miracle of democracy”.
The negotiations followed December elections that saw the BJP capture 25 seats, while the PDP took 28.
But both failed to secure a majority to the 87-seat assembly, forcing the negotiations.
Both parties benefited at the polls from widespread discontent at the state´s then-ruling National Conference party, over its handling of floods that killed more than 200 people in Kashmir in September.
Swarms of police patrolled the university grounds before the ceremony, which was also attended by BJP president Amit Shah.
Modi and Sayeed last week finally agreed on a common agenda to jointly rule the valley and details were expected to be unveiled at a press conference later on Sunday.