Over a month after the poll results were declared, the BJP and PDP have finalised a power-sharing pact and are set to form the next government in the state. According to sources, PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is set to take oath as Chief Minister in mid-February. The Deputy Chief Minister will be from the BJP, with party leader Nirmal Singh being the frontrunner for the post.
“We have almost reached a consensus to form the next government with the PDP,’’ BJP national executive council member and MLA from Billawar, Nirmal Singh, told The Indian Express. “J&K will soon have a stable government headed by a mature politician and a good cabinet team,” he said.
PDP chief spokesman Nayeem Akhtar also confirmed that a PDP-BJP government would be formed by mid-February.
Sources said the PDP would get Home and Finance portfolios while the BJP would get the posts of deputy chief minister and Assembly Speaker. BJP sources said People’s Conference Chairman Sajjad Lone, whose party has two seats in the assembly, would be included in the cabinet in the BJP quota.
Sources said the new government was likely to be sworn in around February 15, as the PDP doesn’t want it to coincide with the death anniversaries of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru. Initially, 15 ministers are set to be sworn in, with equal representation from both parties.
While both the BJP and PDP leaders held separate meetings with Governor N N Vohra on Wednesday, they are likely to formally stake claim on February 9. Sources said the deal was sealed after parleys between BJP’s Ram Madhav and PDP’s Haseeb Drabu, during which both sides agreed to focus on governance and welfare of people instead of raking up contentious issues like repeal of AFSPA and Article 370.
“The CMP (common minimum programme) will be out within five or six days and that will form the basis of the next government,” said BJP state general secretary Ashok Koul. “We have formed two separate teams comprising central and state leaders to hold talks with the PDP. Almost all the issues have been sorted out. BJP and PDP leaders met the Governor and discussed government formation on Wednesday.”
PDP spokesman Akhtar, however, claimed that the two parties had not discussed the contours of the cabinet or portfolios. “That isn’t an issue at all. For us, it hardly matters as to who can transfer a tehsildar or a police officer. We have put forth few important political issues which would determine the agenda of the coalition government,” he said.
“For us, good governance with development, dialogue with Pakistan and the separatist leadership, return of NHPC projects to the state and withdrawal of AFSPA are important issues and we have only been discussing those issues with the BJP,” he said, adding that there have been positive signals from the BJP leadership. “We are negotiating on the CMP,’’ he said.
A Raj Bhawan spokesperson confirmed that senior leaders of both the parties held separate meetings with Vohra on Wednesday. “The PDP MLA from Rajpora, Dr Haseeb Drabu, apprised the Governor on BJP-PDP talks on government formation which have been taking place for about a month and the broad contours of the matters being finalised in the coming days,’’ said the spokesperson.
BJP national general secretary (organisation) Ram Madhav, who was accompanied by state party president and MP Jugal Kishore Sharma and BJP MLA from Billawar Dr Nirmal Singh during an hour-long meeting with the Governor, informed him of the “present status of ongoing BJP-PDP discussions on formation of the elected government’’, the spokesperson added.
The PDP and BJP are already fighting the elections for four Rajya Sabha seats together.