Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti’s meeting with BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi failed to break the deadlock on the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir. The ruling party at the Centre on Friday hardened its stance saying that it will not accept any new conditions from its coalition partner in the state and the new government has to be formed on the basis of “existing conditions”.
Mehbooba was expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi but she will now return to Srinagar on Saturday, said PDP sources.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who is the party’s key negotiator for an alliance with the PDP, said that “no new demand” is acceptable to the BJP, indicating the failure of talks. Governor’s rule was imposed in J&K on January 8, a day after chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed died. Since then, both the PDP and BJP have been negotiating new terms of engagement.
“There is no change in our stand,” Madhav said. “We have told them that a new government should be formed on existing conditions...New demands can be taken up once a new government is formed.” “For us, conditions that existed during Mufti sahab’s tenure remain. The only change is that he is no longer there,” Madhav said, blaming PDP for stalemate. “It was for PDP to appoint a new leader and carry on.”
Mehbooba wants firm assurances from the NDA government on transfer of central power projects to J&K and time-bound implementation of the ‘Agenda for Alliance’, a governance framework established by the two parties.
On Thursday, the army agreed to vacate the land held by it in three places, another key demand of the PDP.
Political observers said both the PDP and BJP were flexing muscles because of the realisation that there is no possibility of an alternative formation. After the 2014 assembly elections had thrown up a fractured verdict, there were attempts to forge a PDP-Congress-National Conference coalition but it did not take off due to obvious contradictions. Given that the Congress is no more enthusiastic about playing any role in the government formation in Srinagar, the PDP is left with little option. The BJP, on the other hand, is playing it hard as it is no hurry given that the Centre is administering the state through the Governor.