BJP, PDP seal alliance to form government: Talks with Hurriyat, phased AFSPA rollbackhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/pdp-bjp-announce-alliance-to-form-government-in-jk/

BJP, PDP seal alliance to form government: Talks with Hurriyat, phased AFSPA rollback

"In coming days a PDP-BJP alliance government in J&K will be in place," said BJP President Amit Shah.

PDP, BJP, PDP BJP government, PDP BJP alliance, Jammu and Kashmir government
“In coming days a PDP-BJP alliance government in J&K will be in place,” said BJP President Amit Shah. (Source: Express photo Tashi Tobgyal)

The BJP and the PDP have hammered out a consensus in J&K with some deft give and take on key issues using semantics to paper over some contentious points, their “Agenda of the Alliance” reveals.

Sources said the 11-page document raises the issue of reconciliation with Pakistan, refers to a dialogue process with “all stakeholders, including Hurriyat”, and suggests a nuanced way forward on AFSPA by denotifying the Disturbed Areas Act in phases.

It also indicates a status quo on Article 370 without directly referring to it, and opens the window for State Subject status for refugees from PoK, support for western Pakistan refugees and release of land occupied by Army and security forces.

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While the document allows the PDP to showcase the line on Hurriyat, lack of action on Article 370, action on refugees and possible release of land from Army as victories to its votebank, it gives the BJP room to claim that it has not made any sharp deviations from its stated position on these issues.

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Sources termed the document, titled “PDP-BJP coalition government in J&K — Agenda of the Alliance”, as a vision for the “national reconciliation on J&K”, and described it as “a framework for governance” and not a “common minimum programme”.

Read Also: In J&K coalition in the making, who’s who

They added that the wording used in the document leaves “enough scope” for PDP and BJP to “sell it” to their respective constituencies as “a win-win deal”. For instance, the PDP can claim that the “external dimension” of the Kashmir issue has been brought within the framework for governance of a state government in J&K for the first time.

PDP won’t tie up with BJP

The document begins with a “quote” from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, followed by one from PDP patron Mufti Mohamamd Sayeed, along with photographs of the two. The cover has a green and saffron border on top, divided equally to provide a “feel of the coalition”.

“BJP has a view contrary to all other political parties on Kashmir and this document will help create a national consensus on J&K,’’ said a source who was involved with the process.

“It is not a minimalistic programme and that is why we don’t call it CMP. It is a position to build a consensus on issues that impacts development and governance,” the source added.

The document, while referring to “reconciliation with Pakistan”, invokes former PM A B Vajpayee’s efforts to stabilise Indo-Pak relations and the peace process in Kashmir. It talks about “Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jhamhooriyat” as the binding principle as propounded by Vajpayee and “seconded by Prime Minister Modi”.

Sources said the BJP was not keen to include this “foreign policy’’ issue in the framework. “But they were convinced once we explained that the worst sufferers of India-Pakistan hostility was the J&K state and its people. We explained that an environment of peace was necessary for development and that couldn’t be achieved without a process of reconciliation with Pakistan,” a PDP source said.

The document, sources said, reiterates the need for “movement of people and goods across the LoC” and places efforts to encourage and widen this initiative on the BJP-PDP government’s agenda.

Listed below are a few major issues that have been discussed in the “Agenda for Alliance”, which was jointly drafted by PDP’s Haseeb Drabu and BJP’s Ram Madhav over two months and 15 meetings, with inputs from the leadership of both parties:

Dialogue with Hurriyat: Sources said the document talks about starting a “dialogue process with all stakeholders, including Hurriyat”.

Article 370: There is no direct reference to Article 370, sources said, but the two parties have agreed not to disturb the current Special Status of the state.

AFSPA: Resorting to nuance, the document places the contentious issue in “a situational frame” rather than a timeframe as demanded by PDP.

By noting that “people must get the dividend of peace”, the two parties appear to have agreed that the coalition will review the situation on the ground and “denotify the Disturbed Areas Act” wherever there has been “sustained peace”.

Settlement of refugees: The Agenda hasn’t directly said whether or not all refugees would be granted State Subject status which would make them eligible to vote in Assembly elections, and have right to own property and employment. Instead, sources said, it divides the refugees into two categories.

There is an agreement to look at a “one-time settlement of refugees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), who have come during 1947, 1965 and 1971” by looking at the possibility of State Subject status. On refugees from western Pakistan, the two parties have agreed to address the issues of housing, livelihood, etc., without promising them State Subject rights.

Land occupied by Army: One of the important agreements in the Agenda, sources said, is about land and property occupied by the Army and other security forces in J&K. Sources added that “all the land which have not been leased, licensed or acquired through the Land Acquisition Act” will have to be vacated.

At places where the Army or security forces have occupied public and private land or buildings because of specific security requirements, they will have to “pay rent on market rate”, they added.

Hydro-power projects: The two major hydropower projects Uri and Dulhasti will be returned to the J&K government. There is also a promise to give a thermal power project, a coal block in Madhya Pradesh and a “special project” worth Rs 2,000 crore.

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The Agenda of Alliance, sources said, also emphasises on the need for “equitable distribution of funds and developmental projects” in the three regions — Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.