After weeks of suspense and politicking, J&K may have to wait for another month and a half for a new government. While PDP and BJP are “almost on the same page” on broader contours of government formation, sources said a decision would be made public only after Delhi assembly polls because BJP doesn’t want terms of its alliance with PDP to be “interpreted as a dilution of its political stance on Kashmir”.
PDP sources suggest the party is working towards a common minimum programme with BJP where both parties have a “window for face saving”. While PDP insists that a structured dialogue is yet to begin, there are indications that the parties have discussed the larger framework of an alliance.
The BJP, too, has been careful. Besides negotiating with PDP, the party has claimed it’s in touch with National Conference. NC leader Davender Rana, however, told The Indian Express that “BJP is playing mind games with PDP by bringing us up. We have no contact with them’’.
Sources said terms of a BJP-PDP alliance will be based on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s three principles — “strengthening national sovereignty, development of region and maintenance of regional balance”.
BJP leader Nirmal Singh said they were aware of the ideological difference between BJP and PDP or NC. “People have given us 25 seats. We have to form a government and while we try to push our programme ahead, we have to go with our alliance partner,’’ he said. “This government won’t be a full BJP government or the other way round”. He said BJP is clear that the government will be development-oriented with regional balance and added that the party won’t agree to anything that “dilutes India’s sovereignty”.
Pointing out that PDP is looking to take forward former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s programme, Singh said: “He (Vajpayee) was taking forward the party’s programme. Why would we have a problem with that’. Referring to Vajpayee’s friendship offer to Pakistan, Singh said such measures would depend on “how the country on the other side behaving”. “PDP won’t say don’t respond (to firing from across the border). NC won’t say that either,’’ he said.
“Our Common Minimum Programme or should I call it Common Maximum Programme wouldn’t focus on controversial issues but on an agenda that ensures development and upholds India’s sovereignty”.
PDP sources, too, said the programme would aim to “focus on doables”. “I think both parties would be silent on controversial issues,” a leader said.
On some PDP MLAs opposing the alliance, he said, “It’s Mufti sahib’s decision”. He added that PDP is only looking at an alliance with BJP. “If BJP rejects the alliance, which is unlikely, PDP may not explore other possibilities,” he said, adding that PDP was going ahead slowly so that ramifications of such an alliance are limited. “The Governor rule has provided that chance,” he said.
Meanwhile, Home Ministry’s move on the issue of permanent resident certificate and voting rights in assembly to Jammu’s western Pakistan refugees has put pressure on PDP as any movement towards granting such rights to the refugees is seen as a move towards “demographic change” in the Valley and Jammu’s Muslim-dominated districts.
The Ministry approved the concessions as per recommendations of a parliamentary committee. But, the decision’s timing has sparked speculation that it was done to keep BJP’s Jammu voters happy.
Sources said Omar Abdullah stepping down as caretaker CM has come as a gift to PDP and BJP because “it has given them time without being directly blamed for pushing the state towards Governor’s rule”.