The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which emerged the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir with 28 seats is caught in a dilemma over allying with the BJP, with whom it differs on Article 370, conversions and uniform civil code.
The BJP itself is not yet fully decided on whether to go with the PDP. Members of the BJP's parliamentary board are meeting in Delhi in the afternoon to discuss the "options" it has.
The party is ready to negotiate with both the PDP and the National Conference. The ruling NC is said to be BJP's preferred choice since it feels it will have more maneuvering space in alliance with Omar Abdullah than with Mufti Mohammad Saeed.
The Congress has offered support to the PDP but their numbers don’t add up to the half-way mark of 44. The PDP would also need the support of independents, making for an unstable government.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) workers celebrate their party's win in Srinagar on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)
On the record, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said her party was not in a hurry to “cobble up numbers”, but senior party leaders present at a closed-door meeting at the Mufti residence, said “deep ideological differences”, would make it difficult for them to have a tie-up with the BJP.
“It would be political suicide for us to join hands with the BJP unless Narendra Modi announces a moratorium on Article 370, conversions and uniform civil code,” a senior PDP leader told Hindustan Times. Another new party MLA said, “It would amount to sleeping with the enemy. How can we compromise on our stated position?”
At the meeting, in which Mehbooba and her father and CM candidate Mufti Mohammed Sayeed were also present, the former apparently said the party would see whether it can work out a common minimum programme with the BJP.
In 2002, PDP and Congress shared power after reaching a similar understanding. But doing the same with the BJP is a far more difficult task.
The red lines drawn by the PDP – moratorium on Article 370, conversions and no uniform civil code – may not be acceptable to the BJP, unless it wants to be part of the state government.
There is also a section within the PDP which is batting for an alliance with the BJP. “It is important to work with the Centre. The state needs development and Narendra Modi is a development man. Together we can work for the betterment of our people,” a leader who won by a big margin told HT, adding, “but it is important for Modi to strike a Vajpayee-like posture and talk of humanity”.
BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday said all options were open to the party , which would mean either joining the government or giving it support from outside.
Meanwhile, outgoing chief minister Omar Abdullah has surprised observers by suggesting that he could support the PDP if its chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed “picks up the phone” and call him.
So, if the PDP prefers a secular option to protect its base in Kashmir, the Congress which has notched up only 12 seats too may find itself in the scheme of things
The victory in Jammu also brings the Kashmiri Pandits back into the reckoning in the state’s politics. Whichever alliance is formed, there has been a paradigm shift in the politics of the state.
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