The National Conference (NC) is willing to do business with the BJP, outgoing chief minister Omar Abdullah told HT Wednesday. “I am not knocking on their door, but if they knock on mine, it would be foolish of me not to talk to them. If the BJP is not untouchable for the PDP, why is it untouchable for us,” he said over the phone from Jammu.
The Jammu and Kashmir poll verdict threw up a hung assembly in which the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats and the BJP came a close second with 25. The majority mark is 44 seats.
While PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said the party was in no hurry to cobble up numbers, it is in a bind over whether to take the support of the BJP with which it has deep ideological differences. Mehbooba’s father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is the party’s CM candidate.
In a move aimed at queering the PDP pitch, Abdullah, whose party won 15 seats, said he was willing to talk to Sayeed “if Mufti chooses to speak to me”.
Asked how he would justify a tie-up with the BJP, especially since the Valley had turned out in large numbers to keep the saffron party at bay, Abdullah said, “Unlike the PDP, I am not actively seeking any understanding with the BJP, but as a functional politician, I am not shutting the door. Let them knock and we’ll see. Talking and deciding on an arrangement are two different things.”
Tying up with the BJP is difficult for both the PDP and the NC, particularly because of their differing positions on Article 370. In the run-up to the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attacked Abdullah for being “corrupt” and promoting dynastic rule. Asked how he could do business with the Modi-led BJP government – if it came to that – Abdullah said, “I will take it as a vindication and ask them ‘if I am corrupt, then what are you doing talking to me’.”
Abdullah, who was a minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government has in the past said one of his biggest regrets was not leaving the NDA government after the Gujarat riots. He, however, refused to be drawn into the question now saying, “This is not the time to get into this. The onus of government formation is not on me. I’m happy to sit in the Opposition for six years but I can’t stop people from knocking on my door.”
Watch | Omar Abdullah post-resigning: Waiting to see what alliances emerge with given J-K results