The Peoples Democratic Party and BJP announced on Tuesday they would jointly form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir, the first time the BJP will be in power in the Muslim-majority state.
The deal between the two ideologically divergent parties, which came about two months after assembly elections threw up a fractured verdict, paves the way for PDP patron and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to be at the helm for a second time.
His daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti met BJP chief Amit Shah in Delhi on Tuesday and announced the ironing out of differences to form a coalition government.
“I am happy that the two parties have adopted a middle path,” she said after the 45-minute meeting.
The two parties had been in talks since the election results were announced at the end of December, but the negotiations failed to make any headway because of their differences over Article 370 and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
The common minimum programme that will be the basis of the alliance would be made public on Thursday, sources said.
They said portfolios have been finalised with the PDP likely to keep home and finance while the BJP is expected to get tourism and water resources, public health engineering and planning.
“After several rounds of talks on different issues, there is near consensus on a common minimum programme and very soon the people of Jammu and Kashmir will have a popular alliance government of PDP and BJP,” Shah said.
“I am happy all obstacles in government formation have almost been removed.”
Sayeed is set to rule for a full six-year term from March 1 when he is expected to be sworn in as the state’s oldest chief minister at 79.
He is confident of a new BJP emerging in Kashmir. “The challenge remains to bridge the gap between regions as there is no question of its trifurcation on regional or religious lines,” he said.
The BJP’s 25 legislators are all from the predominantly Hindu Jammu region while the majority of the PDP’s 28 in an assembly of 87 are from the Muslim-majority Valley.