Negotiations between BJP and PDP to finalise the Common Minimum Programme(CMP) have intensified with efforts being made to cobble together a government in Jammu and Kashmir before the Budget session of Parliament starting February 23.
The informal parleys were intensified amid speculation that PDP 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 tomorrow.
The team is expected to tomorrow meet Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, 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 while the party will hold the post of Deputy Chief Minister which is expected to be given to state BJP leader Nirmal Singh.
“The efforts to finalise the common minimum programme are underway. We are trying our best to complete the process as early as possible. But there is no deadline set. Our effort is to complete it as soon as possible,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told PTI.
Madhav said efforts are on to have a consensus by both parties on various issues and only after then can the CMP be out and formal talks begin.
“There are issues on which a common understanding is yet to be arrived. Once we arrive at a common understanding on all issues, then formal negotiations will begin and we will try to put the government in place as soon as possible,” he said.
Though no formal discussions have started between the two parties, back-channel talks are continuing and leaders of both parties are making efforts to put in place a common agenda for governance to provide a stable government, for which there is no deadline.
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 results was an opportunity for both PDP as well as BJP to bring normalcy in the state.
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?,” Akthar said, adding, “once the CMP is finalised, the government formation will be purposeful.”
Madhav also held a meeting with J and K BJP unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and party MP and state in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna.
Ever since the poll results were out in December, efforts are on to have a government in place but nothing concrete emerged.
Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state on January 9, after National Conference leader Omar Abdullah asked Governor N N Vohra to relieve him of the duties of a caretaker chief minister.
Sayeed had said earlier that the two parties will work “shoulder-to-shoulder” to provide a good government to people of the state.
PDP had been offered support by National Conference which has 15 MLAs and Congress which has 12 to form the government but it started negotiations with BJP, which made historic electoral gains in the state for the first time.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has also notified elections to fill 11 vacant seats of the J and K Legislative Council, which the BJP and PDP are likely to contest together as they had in the Rajya Sabha polls.
The election to the 11 seats will be held on March 2 and nominations will be issued from February 12 to 18 and February 21 would be the last date for withdrawal of candidatures.
Out of the 11 seats, the candidates for five seats must be the residents of Jammu province and for four seats, candidates must be from Kashmir and for the seats of Ladakh and Kargil the candidates must belong to these two districts.