The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Wednesday it is awaiting a formal proposal from the People's Democratic Party after its leader Mehbooba Mufti hinted that her party is not averse to joining hands with the saffron party to form a government in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mufti had invoked BJP stalwart and former prime minister AB Vajpayee and said the decisive but divided mandate given by the people in the state in the recently held assembly elections was both a challenge and an opportunity for PM Narendra Modi.
"We appreciate Mehbooba Mufti's gesture through media. We await formal initiation of dialogue," BJP leader Ram Madhav told PTI.
The BJP leadership has been in talks with lower-rung PDP leaders for government formation after the polls threw a fractured verdict.
BJP sources said Mehbooba's remarks will help in ending the confusion in J-K to take the state forward on the path of development by providing a stable government to the state.
Without giving details about her discussion with governor NN Vohra, Mehbooba said her meeting with him was "informal".
"Modi's dream of development in the state is not possible if Vajpayee's (the former PM had started a peace process and held talks with separatists and Pakistan) initiatives are not carried forward," said Mufti after an hour-long meeting with Vohra.
After the polls, the PDP emerged as the single-largest party with 28 seats, after a neck-and-neck fight with the BJP-led coalition, which stopped at 23. With no party reaching near the majority mark, speculations are rife over possible alliances in the militancy-hit state.
The PDP, however, had earlier said issues like Article 370, which guarantees special constitutional status to the state, were non-negotiable. The state party was also for the revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa).
"It's for the first time people have voted in such large number in Kashmir... It's a great opportunity for the both NDA and UPA, especially Narendra Modi, to reach out to the people who have voted for development," said Mufti.
The governor had written separately to both the BJP and the PDP for a meeting on January 1 to explore possibilities on government formation. However, the PDP advanced its meeting with the governor by a day.
Mufti said the PDP had a support of 55 MLAs. She added said the party's agenda was not to just to form government for the sake of the government.
"Kashmir has voted for the PDP and the people in Jammu have given mandate to the BJP. We have to respect and accommodate the aspirations of all the regions. Our agenda is not to cobble up support for government formation. But, it's an agenda for welfare of the people... (and it) is not possible without peace and was welcomed by former prime minister AB Vajpayee," said Mufti.
"It is not about the BJP, NC or Congress but respect for PDP's agenda for reconciliation. If leadership rises to occasion and takes this mandate head on, then government formation is a matter of 15 minutes," the PDP chief said, when asked about government formation in the state.
"For NDA government, it is a big responsibility, for Modi, it is a big responsibility. Jammu and Kashmir has been the biggest challenge for any PM right from Nehru till date," Mehbooba said.
Referring to Modi's "dream" of development and addressing the problem of unemployment, the PDP leader said there cannot be "development till there is peace on the ground".
She invoked Vajpayee saying for peace in Jammu and Kashmir, he had started a political process and development is not possible till his vision is taken forward.
"Vajpayeeji had started dialogue with Hurriyat, he had started dialogue with Pakistan when LK advani was the deputy prime minister. We got generous economic package. UPA continued it for some time and then stopped it."
She said if the "opportunity" is used, then Jammu and Kashmir can be a "model". In this context, she recalled the statement of Jawaharlal Nehru that the state can be a "showcase" to the world.
The big question doing the rounds is whether the PDP will join hands with the BJP. While some feel that could be a political suicide for the PDP, a section in the party also thinks the Congress, which has just 12 seats, is not a viable option since voter sentiment is against it.
Video: Mufti says no hurry to form govt