BJP, PDP reach verbal agreement on Art 370, AFSPA

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Feb 20, 2015 21:08 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seem to have ironed out some of their differences, which were proving to be a roadblock, in the government formation.

According to sources, the two parties have arrived at a common ground on revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The two parties, sources say, have reached a verbal understanding of agreeing to withdrawal in a phased manner "by getting army on board" and not fiddling with Article 370.

"No time frame is likely to be set and initial announcement of partial withdrawal in areas, like Kathua, might be made after the government formation, but the clause would be by getting army on board,'' said a source.

While PDP spokesman Nayeem Akhtar said, "talks between the two parties were on'', the fact that Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooa Mufti have returned to Jammu, is a positive indication that a deal might be in the offing.

Sources told Hindustan Times that the BJP had expressed its unwillingness to give any assurance in writing to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the contentious issues, including revocation of AFSPA and Article 370. The PDP, however, is insisting on a verbal understanding that Article 370 will not be touch and status quo will be maintained.

The PDP had insisted on writing that the government of Jammu and Kashmir will respect Article 370, but it did not find takers in right wing organisations, like RSS. The BJP is insisting on a verbal "understanding" since the party had not insisted on abrogation of the constitutional provision granting special status to the state even in the election campaign. Even in his rallies Prime Minister Narendra Modi had either did not mention Article 370 or asked for a debate in future.

On ASFPA, the BJP sources say the leadership is "insisting on getting the consent of army before revocation.''

The PDP's alliance agenda which was sent to the prime minister a month back had talked about assurances in writing on AFSPA, Article 370 and West Pakistan Refugees.

The PDP patron has, however, reiterated that he won't compromise on his agenda in an interview with Hindustan Times. Mufti had also insisted he will "form government only with BJP as he wants to respect the mandate of people in Jammu who voted for the party.''

The two parties, which are still engaged in a dialogue, have however voted together in the elections for the Rajya Sabha and also for selecting members of the legislative council in the state.

The government formation in the state has been delayed after the voters threw up a hung assembly. While the PDP bagged 28 seats and emerged as the single largest party, followed by the BJP, which got 25 seats in the Jammu region. The National Conference and the Congress bagged 15 and 12 seats, respectively.

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