The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may have emerged as the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir with 28 seats but is caught in a dilemma over allying with the BJP, with whom it differs on Article 370, conversions and uniform civil code.
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 HT. 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 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.
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.
BJP chief Amit Shah left all options open on Tuesday.
During the campaign for the five-phase election, Modi had personally hit out at the Abdullahs and the Muftis for propagating dynastic rule and leading corrupt governments. Mehbooba too had hit out at the BJP, calling it “divisive and communal”.
Yet, there is 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”.
The results in J&K may have been declared but the acid test for the PDP has only just begun.