February 12, 2015 10:48 pm

Stalemate Ends As PDP, BJP Seal The Deal

SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: Negotiations between BJP and PDP for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir have intensified with both sides giving final shape to Common Minimum Programme (CMP) amid speculation that party patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed will soon meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sealing the deal.

More than 50 days after state polls threw a highly- fractured mandate, the two parties have been holding discussions on ironing out differences on issues like abrogation of Article 370, controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, adoption of soft-stand vis-a-vis separatists and granting of special status to the state.

PDP, which has 28 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly, has formed a team of six people to begin the structured dialogue with the BJP. It includes MPs Muzzafar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Qara, chief spokesman Naeem Akthar, MLAs Hasseb Drabu and Altaf Bhukari and Vikramaditya Singh all of whom will be arriving in the national capital on Friday.

The team is expected to meet Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday, who was nominated by the BJP along with Arun Singh, for negotiating with parties in the state for government formation, sources said. BJP has 25 MLAs in the state Assembly. This may be followed by a meeting between Sayeed and Modi to seal the deal, sources said.

BJP has in-principle agreed for a six-year term for Sayeed who is 79 while the party will hold the post of Deputy Chief Minister which is expected to be given to state BJP leader Nirmal Singh.

After hectic negotiations between the two parties in Mumbai and Chandigarh, it was agreed that PDP will keep the Home portfolio and BJP may get the finance. Akthar said the result was an opportunity for both PDP as well as BJP to bring normalcy to the state.

The partnership is to be announced next week, after which the coalition will approach Governor NN Vohra to stake its claim to form the government. The election was held nearly two months ago.

Asked about a possible Sayeed-Modi meeting, he said “nothing is scheduled”.

“For us, finalisation of government has to be preceded by a CMP which is must. What will be the use of the government which will not be able to deliver on the ground,” he said, adding, “once the CMP is finalised, the government formation will be purposeful.”

The PDP, which swept the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, has been firmly opposed to any attempt to weaken Article 370, which is seen as vital for the autonomy of state by residents. It makes the consent of the state government necessary for laws except those related to defence or national security. As a regional party, the PDP has also asked for the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the army the authority to make arrests without warrants.

In the past, BJP leaders have suggested that the need for Article 370 should be debated because it promotes separatism.

“Article 370 is a very important and core issue for us, everybody understands this… it is a problem that has defied a solution for the last 70 years… so if we are trying to resolve it constitutionally, democratically, why should anybody have reservations on that,” said Nayeem Akhar of the PDP.

The BJP, fronted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, won its best-ever result in India’s only Muslim-majority state, but its gains were made entirely in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. If the party comes to power with the PDP, it will have formed the government in four of five states that have held elections since the PM took office.

State BJP president Nirmal Singh meanwhile said Peoples Conference of Sajad Gani Lone too would be the part of cabinet from BJP’s quota.

 “We want the inclusive government, where we can take every one along and our motto is to being development in the state, so everyone has to be taken along.” Dr Singh said.

He added, that the political agendas’ of the parties should not be allowed to overshadow the developmental agenda. 

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