The People's Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday said the decisive but divided mandate given by the people of the state is both a challenge and an opportunity for the PM Narendra Modi to reach out to the people.
"It's for the first time people have voted in such large number in Kashmir, which has been a challenge for every prime minister. It's a great opportunity for the both NDA and UPA leadership, and particularly Narendra Modi to reach out to the people who have voted for development," said Mehbooba Mufti after an hour-long meeting with the Governor.
Mehbooba, who termed her meet with the Governor as informal, also said Modi's dream of development in the state would not be possible if he did not carry forward the initiatives started by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Vajpayee, she said, had started the process of peace and reconciliation and held talks both with Pakistan and the separatists in Kashmir.
The PDP leader's statements is being interpreted as an assertion that her party is not averse to the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but would want an assurance that contentious issues are not touched.
The PDP has said that Article 370 - which guarantees special status to the state within the Union of India - is non-negotiable and also wants revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). It also wants to initiate a political process for the resolution the Kashmir issue.
The BJP, on the other hand, has kept silent on the Article 370 since campaigning for the recently concluded elections started, but the party has said it will work towards strengthening the country's sovereignty should it form a government in Kashmir.
The Governor had written separately to both the BJP and PDP to explore possibilities of government formation. BJP vice president Ram Madhav met the Governor on Tuesday.
Mehbooba Mufti, citing media reports, said PDP has support of the 55 MLAs, but said the agenda is not to just to form government for the sake of it.
"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," said Mehbooba Mufti.
Although the PDP leadership has been critical of BJP's policies, but it has always been appreciative of Vajpayee, like others in the Valley where secessionist sentiment prevails among a large section. The PDP, observers say, believes that if the BJP gives an assurance of following Vajpayee's policies then having an alliance with it could possible not evoke strong reactions in the Valley.
"It is not about 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," Mehbooba said.
How things unfold will be interesting as the Modi government has not only not given an indication of not holding any talks with the separatists, but even snapped the Indo-Pak foreign secretary level talks after the Pakistan high commissioner to India held a meeting with the separatists.