SRINAGAR, India (AFP) – Narendra Modi and Kashmir’s incoming chief minister put the finishing touches Friday on a deal that will see the premier’s Hindu nationalists enter government in India’s only Muslim-majority state for the first time.
Modi and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed held around 90 minutes’ of talks to discuss the programme and make-up of their parties’ coalition ahead of its expected swearing-in on Sunday.
“This is a historic opportunity to unite hearts and minds of the people in the state,” Sayeed, expected to be the new chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, told reporters after meeting the prime minister in New Delhi.
Both men are expected to attend Sunday’s inauguration in Jammu, the Himalayan region’s winter capital, which is taking place some two months after the inconclusive results from elections to the state assembly.
The elections were marred by a number of deadly attacks in a region that is divided between India and Pakistan, and claimed by both.
The coalition agenda will only be unveiled on Sunday but won’t include any reference to scrapping a constitutional provision which allows Kashmir to make its own laws, even though Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long been committed to its abolition. The PDP has been demanding the removal of a draconian law that gives Indian forces sweeping powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight in Kashmir and is seen by critics as a cover for rights abuses.