Srinagar,Iftikhar Gilani: Even as the deadlock on government formation continues in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of a fractured mandate, top sources here indicated possibility of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance becoming a reality. It is believed that prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP president Amit Shah, who have deliberated on the tough conditions set by the PDP, were positively inclined to discuss them further, to give a face-saver to the Kashmir-centric regional party.
The PDP has said amongst its conditions two — a status quo on the Article 370 and a time-frame for the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA — were non-negotiable. At a public meeting in Srinagar, the prime minister had reminded the people early December that it was under him that the first time soldiers responsible for killing of two youths were identified and punished in such a short time, referring to nine soldiers who have been indicted for killing two youths in Budgam district on November 3. Also, it was only when he took over that the army sentenced two officers and three soldiers to life imprisonment for gunning down three unemployed Kashmiri youths and then trying to pass them off as “Pakistani militants”. The case was pending since 2010.
But not to be left behind, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi also took up matters in her own hands, to dissuade PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed from reaching an agreement with the BJP, which has won the highest – 23% – of the popular vote and maximum 25 seats in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. The PDP was miffed at the statements of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad over the past few days on proposing a grand alliance and even nominating an independent member as deputy CM. The party top brass was treating Azad’s statements as ‘dictating terms’ even before stitching any alliance. Sonia, in a telephonic talk assuaged Mufti’s fears, telling him that her party will not impose any conditions and was even ready to sit outside the government, giving full freedom to the PDP for the sake of keeping the BJP out of power. Following the development, the Congress party also issued a gag order to its leaders for speaking on J&K developments.
In Srinagar, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and his daughter, the party president, Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday consulted newly elected MLAs in one-to-one meetings to elicit their views on government formation. The party’s younger lot, it is believed, is against tying up with the BJP. But may give up their resistance if the BJP concedes party’s core demands.
Meanwhile, a support for the PDP-BJP alliance has come from an unexpected quarter. Former Delhi high court chief justice, civil rights activist and a known secular face, Justice (retd) Rajinder Sachar has called it an “odd, but better solution” for avoiding governor’s role. He, however, suggested that BJP’s efforts for anointing a Hindi chief minister from Jammu was most dangerous for J&K and will make any permanent solution of J&K impossible.
“I have no hesitation in saying that both on principle and practical politics, chief minister of J & K has to be from Kashmir region and a Muslim. This is not communalism but appreciation of ground reality of the historical peculiar situation of J&K,” he told dna. Drawing parallels between pre-independence Punjab general elections of 1946, where Congress had the largest number in coalition, it chose the prime minister (as he was then called in states) from the Muslim Unionist Party party Khizar Hayhat Khan. “BJP and PDP combine will bring a representative character and will be a source for removing misunderstanding between the two regions,” he maintained.