The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the Muftis, slated to be the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir, is discussing a difficult proposition behind closed doors: can it afford to take the support of the BJP to form the government?
Views are sharply divided among the party’s senior members. While some have voiced their apprehension that any tie-up with a party that wanted the abrogation of Article 370, which gives the state a special status, would amount to a ‘’sell-out’’, others say it is important for the state government to be on good terms with the Centre.
The division in the PDP ranks is significant because everyone in the party admits it is unlikely they will form a government on their own. The should-we-should-we-not question is leading to a delicate situation because some leaders have even threatened to leave the party if it were to take the unconditional support of the BJP.
“The minute the PDP takes even outside support, I will leave the party, quit politics and give up my seat if I win,’’ one candidate told HT on the condition of anonymity. According to him, thousands in Kashmir defied the boycott call only to “save the state from the BJP’s onslaught,’’ and any alliance would amount to a betrayal.
Several others HT spoke to were also uncomfortable with the idea of a Maharashtra-like arrangement where the Nationalist Congress Party announced unconditional support for the BJP.
Yet, there are many who feel equally strongly that it would be better to take the BJP’s, rather than the Congress’ support, because the BJP leads the government in Delhi.
“The state needs development and Narendra Modi is a development man. Together we can work for the betterment of our people,’’ another candidate likely to win his seat said.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said she would not like to tie-up with the BJP. “We would not like to take the support of the BJP. The people have understood that the only way out of the BJP’s divisive agenda is to give full support to the PDP,’’ Mehbooba told HT, while her father, widely tipped to be the chief minister, has been arguing for a “Vajpayee-like” humanitarian approach.
The Muftis are putting up a feisty fight in the assembly polls but will have to make hard choices on December 23 when votes are counted. In the end, their total tally will determine which side they will tilt towards. The real test still awaits them and they will soon have to decide on whether ‘’to sleep with the enemy or not,’’ as one senior PDP candidate put it.