Jammu and Kashmir government formation: 24 of PDP’s 25 MLAs back pact with BJP

Jammu,Iftikhar Gilani: Amidst indications that government formation in Jammu and Kashmir may take some time, the BJP appears confident of sewing up an exacting alliance with the PDP. The BJP’s confidence stems from information that 24 of PDP’s 25 MLAs in the valley have endorsed such a tie-up, according to sources.

A BJP delegation in a meeting with J&K governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan in Jammu on Thursday. The delegation led by state party president Jugal Kishore Sharma sought more time to stitch an alliance to form government PTI
A BJP delegation in a meeting with J&K governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan in Jammu on Thursday. The delegation led by state party president Jugal Kishore Sharma sought more time to stitch an alliance to form government PTI

BJP sources said on Thursday that there were positive signals from PDP for forming a coalition government. PDP patron Mufti Mohd Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti had closed-door one-to-one consultations with party MLAs. Only three PDP MLAs from Jammu and lone MLA from Kashmir Valley, Haseeb Drabu, a former editor, who is projected as the finance minister, opposed the tie-up with the BJP.

BJP leaders here said a government in Jammu and Kashmir would have to be formed respecting the mandate, even as they admitted that a tie-up with the PDP would be like walking on a land mine.

A BJP leader said the first priority would be to respect the mandate and that meant that the party, which won 25 seats and got the highest vote percentage, cannot be kept out of government in the state and should have a tie up with PDP. which won 28 seats. The BJP has sought time for the exercise of stitching up an alliance.

The leaders admitted that all contacts with the PDP have been informal, but, expected formal talks to begin by Saturday. “Only formal contacts we had so far were with National Conference (NC). In fact, they had approached us. But understanding reached during these contacts didn’t last long, as there were problems within NC,” the leader said.

Sources said that over the past two days, they were once again receiving vibes from the NC for fresh contacts. The BJP has kept all options open and is not seeing anybody as untouchable, they said.
The BJP is out to break the jinx that it is in perpetual opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir, as it is determined participate in the government, according to the party sources.

A party leader said respecting the mandate is uppermost in the minds of the prime minister and the top BJP leadership. The mandate is for a logical alliance with PDP and accordingly the party is proceeding in the process for formation of the government. The leader, however, admitted that everything is not logical in politics and that is why the situation is still fluid.

The leader acknowledged that the support for the two parties came from divergent sections of the electorate.

Ram Madhav, a recent entrant in the party from the RSS, however, dubbed the invocation of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his dreams about Kashmir by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday after meeting governor N N Vohra in Jammu as “making a case to influence own electorate.”

The BJP leaders said that the party had also kept ready its own charter of demands, which includes revisiting delimitation of assembly constituencies. As per the electoral list, the Jammu region is bound to get more seats, if a moratorium on delimitation is lifted giving Jammu, from where the BJP won all its 25 seats, more political space.

As regards a 6-point charter of demands that the PDP conveyed to the BJP informally as basis for any alliance, the leader said these can be discussed only at the prime minister’s level and hence no response was given except to convey that the BJP also has certain conditions. He denied rejection of any of the PDP’s demands that included a full six-year term to the PDP chief minister, time-bound revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and status quo on Article 370 giving a special status to the state.