Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said on Wednesday that no development in Jammu and Kashmir was possible without carrying forward former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy, sparking speculation that her party was thinking of an alliance with the BJP.
Mehbooba, who met the governor a day ahead than formally planned, said the PDP had the support of 55 MLAs. But, she said the agenda was not just to form a government.
“Kashmir has voted for the PDP and the people in Jammu have given mandate to the BJP,” Mehbooba said. “We have to respect and accommodate the aspirations of all the regions. Our agenda is not to cobble together support for government formation. But, it’s an agenda for welfare of the people where development is not possible without peace and was welcomed by former Prime Minister Vajpayee.”
Political analysts saw this as a hint that talks of an alliance between the two parties were drawing to a close after days of hectic negotiations. The PDP won 28 seats in the assembly polls and together with the BJP’s 25 seats could form the government in the 87-member assembly.
However, analysts added Mehbooba’s statement also hinted that the party wanted an assurance from the Narendra Modi-led government that it will not touch contentious issues like Article 370 that gives the state a special status. The PDP also wants the Centre to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and start the political process to resolve the Kashmir issue.
“Modi’s dream of development in the state is not possible if Vajpayee’s initiatives, who started process of peace and reconciliation and held talks both with separatists and Pakistan, are not carried forward,” Mehbooba said after her hour-long meeting with the governor.
The PDP is wary of announcing an alliance with the national party, as it could alienate voters in the Kashmir Valley where the BJP failed to win a single seat. Analysts said getting the BJP to agree to follow Vajpayee’s policies could help to assure the people.