The People’s Democratic Party’s hope to get the best bargain in government formation by putting the BJP under pressure has ended in smoke, with BJP general secretary Ram Madhav clearly denying the possibility of any revision of the agenda of alliance. The BJP has, in fact, decided to now keep the Mehbooba Mufti-led party guessing about their next move.
The latest development, which follows Mehbooba’s meeting with BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday, is being interpreted by political analysts as the final chapter in the suspense over government formation, with either party soon taking a call on whether there would be a BJP-PDP government or the state would go for mid-term polls.
The meeting was organised by the emissaries of the two parties after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that they were ready to walk the extra mile for the equitable development of Jammu and Kashmir in a time-bound manner.
But the BJP’s attitude changed after Mehbooba Mufti said she wanted more CBMs (confidence building measures) from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre before taking oath as Chief Minister. Irked by her adamant attitude, Ram Madhav on Friday told the media in New Delhi that no fresh demand could be acceptable and that government could not be formed in the state on the basis of conditions. Madhav also revealed that Mehbooba’s thinking and attitude over government formation was “entirely different” from her father, the late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who died in office on 7 January.
But state BJP leaders are hopeful that a government will be formed eventually. The central leadership is not half as optimistic, since it has been unable to persuade Mehbooba despite an effort to accommodate all her concerns, including clearing the flood relief package and asking the Army to vacate state land at many places.
Highly placed sources told this newspaper that the BJP had even agreed to review the continuation of AFSPA in many districts of J&K, particularly in Jammu, Sambha and Udhampur. After Mehbooba Mufti hardened her stance again on Friday, the BJP leadership has decided not to move any further for government formation.
The development does not augur well for Mehbooba, who is believed to have lost the people’s faith in Kashmir Valley and in the Muslim majority districts of Jammu by joining hands with the BJP.
Earlier, when the talks were showing progress, Governor N.N. Vohra had put on hold many crucial decisions including the announcement of budget proposals, the dates of civic body elections and panchayat elections, and the utilisation of Centre’s Rs 80,000 crore package for the state.