After disappearing from the public sphere for some weeks, the apparent process to form a new government have once again moved to the centre stage. A New Delhi based television channel has run a story that the government formation in J&K was on course. And that the only condition that the BJP had put for supporting the possible defectors from the PDP was for them to accept a Hindu Chief Minister. For the BJP this has a powerful symbolic political value and could help it to mobilize support in the run-up to the next year’s general election. It remains to be seen how the potential defectors from the PDP or the NC would respond to this demand. So far, only five PDP legislators have publicly gone against the party and hinted at joining or forming a new party. Other PDP leaders have not publicly supported the rebels but they have also been silent about their loyalty to the party. As of now, it is still not clear how many PDP leaders are to ready to defect. For the process to abide by the stringent anti-defection law, around two-thirds of the party’s MLAs will have to simultaneously announce their separation from the PDP and form a new party.
With 28 seats the PDP is the largest single party in the 87-member Assembly. The BJP is second largest with 25 followed by National Conference (15), Congress (12), People’s Conference (2) and Independents. So, a party or a coalition needs 44 seats to form a government.
The BJP already has the support of People’s Conference led by Sajad Lone who is also tipped to be the Chief Ministers should he manage to get the support of the potential PDP defectors. The BJP also has the support of the independent legislator Pawan Kumar Gupta. So, the party needs just 16 more members to form the government. And these 16 are expected to come from the PDP. And if the television channel is to be believed, all of them will be made ministers. But would the detecting Kashmiri legislators support a Hindu CM in a Muslim majority state? It is difficult to tell. Would even the BJP ally support a Hindu CM, is not known. What is so far in the public domain is an unconfirmed information that a new government is being formed by breaking the PDP or any other party. Things are likely to become clearer in the coming few weeks. According to the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, J&K Governor is being replaced soon. Madhav has also let it be known that the BJP will be part of the new government in the state. These are the signals that only reinforce the public perception that a new government is about to be formed. But if at all this happens, it will be a development with profound repercussions for the state. One only hopes the actors in the middle of it are aware of it.
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