IN AN attempt to save its “most strategic” alliance, the BJP has agreed to hold talks on PDP’s key demand to fix timelines for “some points” in the Agenda for Alliance, the mutually agreed pact between the two parties.
“We have to move on the basis of the Agenda for Alliance on which the coalition government was functioning. But on some points, there can be a kind of timeline. We can discuss about it. The government should be formed on the basis of the agenda. So PDP leaders will come to Delhi and we will talk and it will be taken forward,” said BJP general secretary Ram Madhav.
Madhav held a meeting on Wednesday with PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar to iron out differences between the two sides.
Madhav insisted, however, that there would not be a dilution of the agenda, which he referred to as the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). “No dilution of CMP, nor any addition. It’s a very comprehensive document for the development of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
The BJP general secretary, who played a crucial role in the formation of the unexpected coalition, said he was optimistic about the future of the alliance. “Both sides are positive. I hope there will be a continuation of the arrangement,” he told reporters outside the BJP headquarters.
The Mehbooba-Madhav meeting, which was kept under wraps till the last minute, took place after suspense lasting over a month on government formation in the state after the demise of CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 8.
Apparently, Mehbooba sensed the unhappiness on the ground about the alliance from the relatively lean crowd that attended her father’s funeral, and kept the BJP on hold about the tie-up’s future. But the one-on-one meeting between the two leaders has given fresh hope to the BJP camp which is keen on continuing in power.
“The government had been performing well under Mufti Saab on the basis of the agenda. Unfortunately, Mufti Saab passed away. We are in favour of moving forward… The way the government worked should continue. We can present a stable government,” said Madhav.
The BJP general secretary, however, denied reports that the party has agreed to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir. “There was no discussion on AFSPA during his meeting… there is no change in their stance on it,” said Madhav.
On AFSPA, the CMP agenda says: “While both parties have historically held a different view on… AFSPA and the need for it in the state at present, as part of the agenda for governance of this alliance, the coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying ‘disturbed areas’. This, as a consequence, would enable the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas.”
Madhav also claimed that the PDP has not sought any confidence-building measures (CBMs) to keep the alliance alive. “The CMP is CBM… no separate issues other than what are parts of the CMP. Both sides are committed to the CMP,” he added.
Referring to the silence from both sides on the alliance, Madhav explained that the Muftis had observed a 40-day mourning following the death of the PDP patron. “It was over on February 16 and I met Mehbooba yesterday. But we were talking over telephone… After discussions in the party and with the government, I have conveyed the party’s views,” he said.
Madhav said he would apprise BJP leaders about the meeting’s outcome. The top leadership of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will discuss issues raised by Mehbooba before the BJP-PDP talks resume. The PDP leaders are expected to be in the national capital when the Parliament session begins on February 23.
Meanwhile, BJP general secretary Anil Jain said the party would not join hands with PDP if it supports Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.