Ram Madhav in J&K; speculation about govt formation

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National General Secretary Ram Madhav interacts with a supporter during a rally to celebrate the party's victory in the recent urban local bodies elections, in Srinagar. PTI File photo

The BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav’s latest visit to Srinagar has once again fuelled speculation about government formation in Jammu and Kashmir with separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Lone likely to be Chief Minister.
During his day-long visit, Madhav, who is in-charge of the saffron party’s affairs in the state, called on newly elected Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Junaid Mattu. Besides he also had meetings with Sajjad Lone and influential Shia legislator and PDP rebel Imran Ansari.
Pertinently Mattu, who till recently was the spokesperson of regional National Conference, was appointed the mayor of Srinagar city with the support of Lone’s Peoples Conference and the BJP.
The latest buzz in Srinagar is that there could a coalition government with Lone as Chief Minister by the end of December. After the BJP pulled out of Mehbooba Mufti’ led PDP-BJP coalition government on June 19, Governor’s rule was imposed in the state.
“After victory in civic polls, the BJP is upbeat about government formation in the state with the help of like-minded legislators. During his latest visit Madhav ji discussed the issue with not only the party leaders, but Sajjad Lone and some other political leaders in Kashmir,” a senior BJP leader, who wished anonymity told Deccan Herald.
He said there is a possibility of government formation in J&K after the assembly elections of five states are over by mid-December. The panchayat polls in J&K are also scheduled to be over by that time.
While addressing reporters on Tuesday after Mattu was elected as the SMC Mayor, Lone claimed his party has “emerged as an alternative to the dynastic parties” in an apparent reference to the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Peoples Conference is a political party. It is not any third front or alliance,” he said when asked whether he would head the “third front.”
He added that his party has emerged as a “force to reckon with” in Kashmir.
But the question remains whether the BJP-PC alliance has requisite numbers to form the government in J&K. While the saffron party has 25 MLAs, the PC has two and three of the PDP legislators have rebelled against the party immediately after the fall of the Mehbooba led government.
The BJP at least requires 14 more members to form the government in the state. “Most of the BJP and PDP legislators don’t want to go back to voters as they feel they would be trounced in the elections. Once the government formation gains momentum, the legislators from other parties will join the BJP-PC. In such a scenario, anything is possible,” a political analyst said.
The term of the JK assembly is six years and the next elections are scheduled to be held in December 2020, almost 25 months from now.

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