PDP, BJP close to tie-up pact

PDP, BJP close to tie-up pact

The People’s Democratic party (PDP) has emerged as the choice of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir. BJP chief Amit Shah has decided to constitute a team for holding negotiations with the leading regional outfit.

“There has been an initiative from the PDP side. To take this forward, we decided to hold further discussions on the issues (with the PDP). At the moment, there is some forward movement on the issue,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told reporters after the meeting that took place at Shah’s residence.

BJP sources, aware of the development, said Shah was going to constitute a team in a day or two, which would be authorised to officially interact with PDP leaders on contentious issues before government formation. For the first time, BJP leaders said the PDP had made serious moves on taking government formation talks forward since previous overtures were only confined to media.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had visited Srinagar as an observer after the results were declared, hinted that controversial issues could be set aside for larger interest. But, at the same time, he accepted that it was “very difficult” for parties to rescind their ideological positions.

The PDP, which got most of its votes from the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region, is worried over the BJP demand for a Hindu chief minister. The PDP, led by former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, wants the saffron party to clear its stand on Article 370 and Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

“The issue has moved forward. As and when we move forward we will let you know. Keeping in mind the mandate in Jammu and Kashmir, we have decided to take forward the talks,” Madhav said.

If the two parties—the PDP got 28 seats, the BJP 25—come together, they will easily cross the halfway mark of 44 to provide a stable government. The Assembly has 87 members.

After getting positive feelers from the PDP, Shah had summoned top leaders of his party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit for an urgent meeting in Delhi to discuss the way forward. The state still does not have a government after 13 days of declaration of election results.

Apart from Shah and Madhav, others present in the meeting were: Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh, party's in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP state unit president Jugal Kishore Sharma and senior state leaders Nirmal Singh and Bali Bhagat.
BJP state unit leader Beli Ram Bhagat said, “We will let you know soon whatever was discussed in meeting.”

Till two days ago, the BJP was not sure of the back channel talks with the PDP and the National Conference. That is why it sought time from the governor who wanted to know government formation plans.

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