Indian media: Kashmir coalition's challenges

Papers have urged Mr Sayeed to work for Kashmir's betterment Image copyright EPA
Image caption Papers have urged Mr Sayeed to work for Kashmir's betterment

Papers urge coalition partners BJP and the PDP to forget their "ideological battles" to bring peace and prosperity to Indian-administered Kashmir.

The new government was formed on Sunday with the People's Democratic Party's (PDP) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed taking oath as the state's chief minister.

The state gave a "fractured mandate" on 23 December after a fiercely fought election because no party crossed the 44-seat mark needed to form a government.

The regional PDP won 28 seats and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came second with 25 seats.

The Hindu nationalist BJP and Muslim-majority PDP agreed to form an alliance after weeks of tough negotiations.

Papers say the two parties are radically different and do not agree on several issues.

"Their ideological differences may be large, with one party romanticising self-rule and the other grudging special status for the state. But this is a new century, it's time to forget the ideological battles of the old one. This ground-breaking alliance can build a new peace in the turbulent state," says The Times of India in an editorial.

The paper urges the BJP, which is also running the federal government, to involve Kashmiri separatist leaders in the state's development.

"Sitting in both central and state governments now, it [the BJP] cannot ignore the reality that there is no road to long-term peace except through parleys with separatists," it says.

The Deccan Herald says that the talks to form an alliance took nearly two months, but the harder part begins now.

"Even while putting together an alliance was not easy, working the government may be the harder part. Governments in Kashmir in the past, without the kind of differences between the PDP and the BJP, have been found wanting on governance," it says.

Pakistan's role

Papers say the two parties and their members need to restrain themselves while talking on controversial issues like Pakistan's role in peace talks and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The law gives the security forces the powers of search and seizure. It also protects soldiers who may kill a civilian by mistake or in unavoidable circumstances during an operation.

The PDP wants a complete withdrawal of the law, while the BJP wants to link it to the security situation.

Papers report that the BJP was getting defensive when Mr Sayeed credited Pakistan and militants for peaceful state elections after taking the oath.

"Reading too much into individual utterances and that too on deeply-held contrarian views at this stage would be akin to missing the wood for the trees," says The Tribune.

Separatist to minister

Papers have also welcomed the inclusion of former separatist leader Sajjad Lone into the state cabinet.

He was also sworn in as a minister on Sunday.

"This represents a welcome opening for other separatists to join the political mainstream. Perhaps this is also why when the opposition was attacking Mr Sayeed for thanking Hurriyat [separatist group] and Pakistan, the BJP remained restrained," The Times of India says.

And finally, Mr Modi created a buzz on Monday when he visited the parliament canteen for lunch.

"Mr Modi surprised MPs having lunch in parliament's canteen on Monday when he suddenly joined them. He paid 29 rupees (47 cents; 30 pence) for a vegetarian 'thali' (platter)," The Hindu reports.

Mr Modi is believed to be the first prime minister to have had lunch in the parliament canteen, the paper adds.

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