Will PDP-BJP ping pong on government formation end soon? (News Analysis)

Jammu, Feb 26 (IANS) The PDP and the BJP appear to be still debating whether or not they should divorce or remain married in Jammu and Kashmir.

Was Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Sat Pal Sharma doing some loud thinking or throwing the ball back into the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) court when he said the stalemate on government formation would end by the beginning of next month?

There could be many answers to Sharma’s statement.

On her part, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, now attending the Lok Sabha session in Delhi, has made it clear that the agenda of the BJP-PDP alliance will have to be revisited to the extent of setting a timeframe vis-a-vis its implementation.

“It is entirely up to the BJP now. If they want an elected government, it will take office in Jammu and Kashmir within a day,” a senior PDP leader and former minister close to Mehbooba Mufti told IANS here.

The PDP leader, however, ruled out formation of a “status quoist” government with the BJP.

State BJP president Sharma on the other hand has asserted that talks between the BJP and the PDP were on in New Delhi and these were moving in a positive direction.

Senior PDP leader and former state finance minister Haseeb Drabu has been camping in New Delhi for nearly a week. Drabu is reported to have met BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav.

Drabu and Madhav had drafted the agenda of the alliance that brought the BJP-PDP government to power on March last year headed by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, Mehbooba Mufti’s late father.

Reports from Delhi indicate there could be a one-on-one between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mehbooba Mufti if New Delhi agrees to some special announcements on Jammu and Kashmir to pave the way for Mehbooba Mufti to take up the top job in the state after resigning as MP.

PDP legislators have started selectively speaking to the media in measured tones about the leadership not taking them into confidence on the government formation front.

At least three PDP legislators have been complaining about being kept out of the loop on the supposed PDP-BJP negotiations.

Whatever the internal chemistry of the PDP, the fact remains that none other than Mehbooba Mufti is empowered to take the final call on government formation.

This was asserted by the PDP legislature party earlier this month.

Ironically, while the final decision on government formation in the state lies with the PDP president, the same does not hold good for the BJP leadership in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a nutshell, the present ping pong on government formation in India’s only Muslim-majority state will end only if the BJP high command walks the extra mile — or Mehbooba Mufti decides to be content with the ‘sacred document’ her party calls the Agenda of Alliance.

That, of course, may not be easy given the fact that the PDP commands its suppose base mainly in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley while the BJP’s core support comes from Hindu-majority Jammu region.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul@ians.in)

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