February 20, 2015 11:11 pm

BJP-PDP Coalition Talks Still Stuck Amit Shah meets RSS

NEW DELHI/ SRINAGAR: The BJP on Thursday, intensified its efforts to finalise the formation of the new government in Jammu & Kashmir, with party President Amit Shah rushing to RSS headquarters to pacify Sangh leaders, while another set of BJP leaders approached PDP leaders including patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, to find an amicable stand on the controversial AFSPA and Article 370.

While PDP spokesman Naeem Akthar said "talks were on and we are hopeful of a positive outcome soon", sources in the know of the developments said that both sides were trying to find a solution to the PDP demand of the withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state.

The PDP has been demanding a written assurance for the withdrawal of AFSPA from certain areas of the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region, an idea first floated by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The BJP, however, has started dragging its feet and made it clear that it will not dilute its stand on issues like Article 370 and AFSPA.

BJP sources said they were continuing dialogue with PDP leaders in an effort to iron out differences on crucial issues, come up with a consensus and make it a part of the common minimum programme of the proposed alliance government in the state.

Amit Shah rushed to meet top RSS leaders this morning and is learnt to have discussed these crucial issues with them.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of opposition from the RSS over the reported dilution of the BJP's stand on Article 370 and also over the controversy of giving citizenship to West Pakistan Refugees.

BJP and PDP are keen to form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir where assembly elections threw up a hung verdict. Earlier, the two parties wanted a government in place before the budget session of parliament, which will begin on 23 February.

While PDP emerged as the single-largest party with 28 seats, BJP won 25 seats in the 87-member state assembly in results declared in December last year.

The leaders of the two parties have been in constant talks with each other to iron out differences and come out with a Common Minimum Programme. They have admitted to differences between the ideologies of the two parties on certain crucial issues including AFSPA and Article 370.

BJP National Secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said his party was looking for a solution within the framework of national interest and to ensure that the state received both good development and governance.

"There are issues related to cross-border terrorism which relate to the development of the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh region. The state has been deprived of good governance and development for many years. So all these things will be looked at while we come into an agreement with PDP to form the government," he said.

PDP spokesman Naeem Akthar said he would not like to enter into a public debate on the sticking points, as "these issues are being discussed across the table and then a solution will be hammered out."

"Now there is a time when perhaps Mufti Muhammed Saeed has triggered a process to use this political skill. We have solved so many political problems. Why is this problem defying a political solution? Perhaps it has not been addressed politically. Now it is not Mufti Mohammad Saeed who is talking, it is the people's mandate, it is the state's legislature, it is everyone who is elected under Constitution of India. He is talking, they are talking on this issue through Mufti Mohammad Saeed and addressing this issue," he said.

Congress spokesman PC Chacko termed the alliance between PDP and BJP an "opportunist" one which was being cobbled to only get the power.

He said both PDP and BJP had divergent views on many crucial issues. "I wonder how for the sake of government, the two parties will pour water on their respective stands on issues like Article 370 or AFSPA."

Meanwhile, sources said that leaders of BJP's core group in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to hold discussions tomorrow regarding the party's dialogue with PDP over government formation in the state.

Among the core group members of J-K BJP are the party's state unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and Nirmal Singh, whose name is doing the rounds for the post of J&K deputy chief minister.

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