Breakthrough still elusive: PDP, BJP to continue talks over govt formation in J-K
The People's Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party are yet to reach a consensus on sealing an alliance and take the process of forming the government in Jammu and Kashmir further despite several rounds of talks.india Updated: Feb 17, 2015 09:06 IST
The People's Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party are yet to reach a consensus on sealing an alliance and take the process of forming the government in Jammu and Kashmir further despite several rounds of talks.
Both the parties have held discussions on ironing out differences on issues like Article 370, controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, adoption of soft-stand vis-a-vis separatists, granting of special status to the state and West Pakistan Refugees.
The Indian Express reported that leaders from both the parties will meet on Tuesday to hold another round of discussion.
"The negotiations have entered a decisive phase and meetings are on to iron out differences. The fate of the alliance and the decision on government formation will be announced any time now," the Express quoted an unnamed source as saying.
The talks between the two parties have seen more than 15 rounds of intense negotiations over 3 weeks in 3 different locations.
Senior PDP leader and chief spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar told the Express that there has not been a final breakthrough so that a structured dialogue for coalition could start.
The PDP has made it clear that it will not compromise on the issues of Article 370, Afspa and western Pakistan refugees.
It has demanded an assurance from the BJP that Article 370 that accords special status to J-K would not be touched to “protect the state’s political and demographic character”. Withdrawal of Afspa that gives security forces powers to search and enter property is another sticking point.
Along with construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and common civil code, abrogation of Article 370 is at the core of the BJP’s agenda. But, in the run up to the last year’s state elections, the party, mellowed its stand, suggesting a debate over the utility of Article 370.
“It is part of the Constitution. We don’t want to add or subtract anything from it. Much of it (Article 370) has already been eroded. We only want to protect whatever is left of it,” a senior PDP strategist said.
Party leaders maintain the PDP was taking a “huge risk” by engaging in talks with the BJP. Voters in Kashmir had ignored separatists call for a boycott to vote in large numbers which was attributed to the anti-BJP sentiment in the Valley.
“Article 370 is non-negotiable for us. It is an existential issue for the people of J-K, the state and for us as a party. This needs to be understood,” another PDP leader said.
Party leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media, also said talks and government formation would take some time.
The PDP leadership is upset with the statements of some senior BJP leaders, including Nirmal Singh, who said Afspa would be revoked only after the consent of security forces.
“Afspa gives an impression that J-K continues to be a disturbed area when situation is absolutely normal. Why should you own up such an embarrassment internationally,” the PDP leader said.
However, BJP sources said issues would be ironed out in the CMP. The party had not even mentioned Article 370 in the vision document released ahead of the elections, the sources said.
The PDP also plans to do an AAP by making public the terms of power-sharing agreement before sealing the alliance.
“If we reach there (power-sharing), we will definitely put the common minimum programme in public domain. Nothing will be hidden,” Akhtar told HT.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which swept to power in Delhi recently, had sought people’s view before accepting the Congress’ support in December 2013. The government, however, lasted 49 days after the AAP opted out.