‘BJP is trying hard to forge a new alliance with PDP rebels. Sajjad Lone may be Chief Minister. Haseeb Drabu is leading the parleys.’
Jammu and Kashmir may see the formation of a new government, most probably soon after the conclusion of the ongoing Amarnath Yatra, with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) heading for a vertical split and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to forge a new alliance with PDP rebels and other splinter groups in the state with PDP veteran Haseeb Drabu leading the parleys. Separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is tipped to head the new dispensation.
However, the PDP leadership is crying foul over the move. “It’s all scripted,” allege sources close to former Chief Minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and her brother Tassaduq as they claim that they put their foot down when the Central government refused to implement the agenda of alliance in the state.
“We were very firm that the Central government should walk the talk. We want them to talk to Pakistan to solve the Kashmir dispute. They were assuring us that after the Ramzan ceasefire, they will start the process, but they had already decided to buy some PDP lawmakers to sub-contract the government to their favourites,” alleged a senior PDP leader who is close to Mufti.
On the other hand, the rebel camp, the ranks of which are swelling by the day, tells a different story. They say that it is actually Mufti’s failure which forced the Centre to declare that the alliance was no more tenable for them.
“Mehbooba Mufti was letting her coterie, especially the family members indulge corrupt practices. The Central government was forced to withdraw the support as there was no sign of government on the ground. Governance was zero,” alleged sources close to the rebel group, headed by Imran Raza Ansari.
Sources close to Handwara MLA Sajjad Gani Lone said that people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve honest and better governance and people have elected them for the same. Hence, they said, “it is our duty to forge a new alliance as a third force in Kashmir politics so that people of the state get rid of dynasties like the Muftis and the Abdullahs.” They said that talks with all like-minded lawmakers are at an advanced stage and they are hopeful that in a few months, a new government will be in place in the state.
Their sentiments were echoed by former Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta. He told this newspaper that the state BJP was trying to forge a new alliance to form government and give people of Jammu and Kashmir good governance and clean administration.
As it seems at present, all channels of communication are open at different levels with different political parties. PDP rebels are gaining more and more support. Reports said that Lone along with Ansari have been able to garner the support of at least 16 MLAs so far, most of them belonging to PDP. The duo is trying hard to form a new “third front” and get some lawmakers from Congress and National Conference too. Highly-placed official sources said that a number of meetings have been held between BJP’s Ram Madhav, Lone and PDP rebels. They said that Drabu, who was instrumental in forming the PDP-BJP alliance but fell out with Mufti and was sacked from her ministry earlier this year, is pulling the strings of this new arrangement and has been in touch with all the MLAs to help them forge the new government.
Apart from Ansari, his uncle who is MLA from Zadibal segment of Srinagar, Tangmarg MLA Abbas Wan, Baramulla MLA Javaid Beigh, who is a nephew of Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, Damhal Hanjipora MLA Abdul Majeed Padroo have openly said that they were with the new arrangement to form government after two months. The reports said that more and more PDP lawmakers are getting in touch with the rebels and they may soon stake claim to be the real PDP in the state Assembly. They said that Mehbooba Mufti has failed to reach out to the rebel MLAs and her camp has been reduced to her family members and relatives who were forming the core group during her tenure as Chief Minister. It is said that after BJP withdrew support, Mufti tried to form government with the help of Congress, but the state leaders of Congress refused to be the part of any such dispensation. At present, BJP has 25 members and PDP 28 in the state Assembly. The BJP will require the support of at least 19 MLAs to get to the halfway mark in the 87-member House. However, Ram Madhav on Saturday ruled out any possibility of government formation.