Mehbooba hints at alliance with BJP

Mehbooba hints at alliance with BJP

 People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday hinted that her party might forge an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a “stable and inclusive” government, as political stalemate continued for the ninth day in Jammu and Kashmir.

After an hour-long meeting with Governor N N Vohra at Raj Bhavan in Jammu, she told reporters that people have given a “decisive but divided” mandate, which has thrown a challenge to the political leadership in the state as well as the national level.

“We believe it is time for the national leadership, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have voted in such large numbers in hope of bringing about a change in governance and ending political uncertainty,” she said, indicating that the PDP could ally with the BJP.

She said as the PDP got majority in the Kashmir valley and the BJP won majority in the Jammu region, “the people's mandate must be respected”.

However, Mehbooba was quick to add that Modi's dream of development and addressing the problem of unemployment was not possible till peace returned.
“It is not possible till Atal Behari Vajpayee's political process is taken forward. The state faces problems of a peculiar nature, and if the PDP manages to form a stable government, we would want Vajpayee's peace-building initiatives, which were interrupted by the outgoing government,” she said.

In an apparent reference to the party’s stand on revocation of AFSPA and a special package to the state, besides talks with Pakistan, the PDP chief said, “We have to ensure restart of the peace process and the fulfilment of promises we made to the people.”

Claiming that government formation was not the sole aim of her party, she said, “According to the expression of support made by the Congress, the National Conference (NC) and some independents, as reported in the media, the PDP has the support of more than 55 members. But if forming government had been the only objective, we would have done it within a matter of hours,” she said.

Without giving details her discussion with the governor, Mehbooba said her meeting was informal and their priority was not to cobble up a majority for the sake of government formation.

Meanwhile, sources told Deccan Herald that chief minister’s chair was the bone of contention between the two parties.

“While PDP wants the chief minister's post for the full six-year term, the BJP wants it on rotational basis for the first three years. The BJP had earlier offered the same formula to the NC during informal talks, which was rejected,” they said.

Reacting to her statement, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said "an initial contact has been established between the two parties" and her comments will help take forward formal discussions."We appreciate Mehbooba Mufti's gesture through the media. We await formal initiation of dialogue," he said. He maintained that "all options are open" for the BJP as its leaders have been in talks with lower-rung PDP leaders for government-formation after the polls produced a fractured verdict with the PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member Assembly closely followed by the BJP with 25 seats.

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