Two days ahead of the formation of its first ever government in coalition with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP leaders here have started talking of having a conciliatory approach rather than sticking to their known public positions on contentious issues like Article 370 and Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
“We have decided to have status quo on the matter, said Kavinder Gupta, BJP MLA from Gandhi Nagar and party’s likely choice for the portfolio of Housing and Urban Development in Mufti Sayeed-led coalition government.
“If we have Article 370, they (PDP) too have self-rule which is not acceptable to us, he said, adding that ‘when a coalition has to be formed, both sides need to keep aside divisive issues between them. As such, we have decided to maintain status quo in the matter,” he said.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with senior BJP leaders is likely to be present at the swearing-in function. The auditorium was sealed for general public, with sniffer dogs and metal detectors pressed into service to sanitise the area.
While BJP had been for abrogation of this provision of the Indian Constitution governing state’s relations with Indian Union, PDP had been insisting on strengthening it for marching towards its
“self rule” vision for permanent peace and stability in the state, and also the sub-continent.
About AFSPA, Gupta said that ever since this provision of the Indian Constitution got enforced in the state, there have been lot of improvement on ground. However, both the parties will have a standing committee to review the situation and a final decision on it will be taken only at the unified headquarters, he pointed out.
However, there was still confusion over the number of ministers to be sworn-in on the occasion. While initial reports said that PDP patron Mufti Sayeed wanted to begin with a small ministry comprising half a dozen ministers from both the parties, sources that Sayeed is rethinking his earlier idea. Following advice from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have a full ministerial team, Mufti government may now have 25 ministers, PDP (13) and BJP (12) including Sajjad Lone of Peoples Conference.
While Home and Finance will go to the PDP, sources said that Minister of State for Home might go BJP’s way.
Similarly, there is also likelihood of Deputy Chief Minister heading the first ever multi-member planning commission in the state on the pattern of Delhi. The decision, sources said, was taken as BJP wanted to have the Planning portfolio in case of Finance going to PDP, but the latter not prepared to accept it. Rather the multi-member Planning Board will enable ensure participation of both the coalition partners in matters of planning relating to the state, sources said.