Former chief minister Omar Abdullah has scotched speculation that his National Conference (NC) will support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in forming a new government in Jammu and Kashmir.
"So many stories doing the rounds about a BJP NC deal. Let me say this as strongly as possible - THERE IS NO DEAL NOR ANY DISCUSSION going on," Abdullah tweeted late Thursday.
I hope someone from the PDP/BJP/Cong steps up & forms a government in J&K quickly. Denying stupid rumours is fast becoming a full time job.— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) December 25, 2014
PTI quoted a Jammu-based leader of the NC as saying a tie-up with the BJP, the second largest party in the state, was never possible because of the fundamental differences between the two.
The denial came amid reports that the BJP, which has 25 members in the 87-member assembly, was exploring the possibilities of tying up with the NC, which has 15 MLAs.
There were reports that Abdullah met BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi, but the saffron party denied that.
Speculations were rife that BJP leaders in Delhi were counting on the support of at least four of the seven "other" MLAs to cross the magic figure of 44, along with the NC.
Meanwhile, the BJP began talks with the People's Democratic Party (PDP), which has emerged as the single-largest party with 28 seats.
The big question doing the rounds is: Will the PDP join hands with the BJP? While some feel that could be a political suicide for the PDP, a section in the party thinks the Congress, which has just 12 seats, is not a viable option since voter sentiment is against it.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who arrived in Srinagar Thursday evening from Jammu, held two separate rounds of talks with senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig -- the first round at Baig's residence and the second round at a hotel where Madhav was staying.
Baig, earlier in the day, had said the BJP and the PDP leadership should hold talks on forming the next government.
Madhav, who attended a meeting of a meeting of BJP's newly-elected MLAs in Jammu Thursday, also held a series of meetings in Srinagar with leaders of other Valley-based political parties as part of efforts to cobble up a government in the state.
PDP spokesperson Samir Koul told PTI late Thursday that lines of communication had been opened for government formation.
"Talks are going on with BJP over government-formation in the state... (but) it will take some time before we can make any announcement," Koul said.
Asked if the PDP would agree to a rotational chief ministership with the BJP, Koul said "not at this moment".
"There are differences on certain issues like the political agenda of PDP -- Article 370 (which guarantees a special status to Jammu and Kashmir) and revocation of Afspa from the state," he said, adding his party won't compromise on such issues.
Talks between the parties was expected to continue Friday, party sources said.