SRINAGAR: With the Jammu and Kashmir elections throwing up a hung verdict and the National Conference ruling out an alliance with the BJP, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed may head the next government as his party is exploring the option of forming government either with the support of saffron party or the Congress.
The PDP emerged as the single largest party in the state by winning 28 seats. The BJP swept the Jammu region by winning 25 seats while the NC and the Congress got 15 and 12 seats respectively. Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference won two seats while CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami retained his Kulgam seat in South Kashmir. Besides, four independent candidates emerged as winners. “The results were not up to our expectations,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said.
NC’s working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already ruled out alliance with BJP. “We cannot forge an alliance with the saffron party,” he said.
Both the BJP and the Congress have expressed their willingness to support the PDP but it is for Mufti and his party leaders to decide whom to align with. If the party ties up with the Congress, it would need the support of at least four independent candidates and in case it decides to go with the BJP, it would need any other support.
Sources said the PDP and the BJP have opened communication lines to discuss government formation in the state. According to political observers, Mufti is acceptable to people of both regions of the state.
They said if the PDP were to forge an alliance with the BJP, the PDP will press for a six-year tenure for Mufti as CM of the state and putting Article 370 on the backburner. Both these issues may not go down well with the BJP workers in the Jammu, where from party got all the seats. “They will try to exert pressure on party central leadership to go for rotational basis and have CM from Jammu also”.
Political observers said Mufti can claim high ground if he forges an alliance with the BJP.
“He can claim that he foiled BJP’s bid to foist a Hindu as J&K CM. This vote in the state is against the NC and the Congress. Both the NC and the Congress have been rejected by the people,” PDP chief spokesman Nayeem Akhtar told reporters.
He said the BJP and the PDP have emerged as strong forces in two regions of the State. “There are ideological differences between two parties. It is a catch 22 situation for us,” Akhter said when asked whether his party will ally with the BJP.
He said the party was not in a hurry to form the government. “Pragmatism, interest of State, developmental needs and national interests will also have to be taken into consideration”.
Mehbooba Mufti also kept the option of forging an alliance with the BJP open saying the people have voted against the NC and the Congress. “The PDP is exploring all possibilities and will do its best for the welfare of the people. The PDP would not cobble up any number just for the sake of arithmetic. Our priority is to make a governance where we can deliver,” she said.
BJP MP and incharge J&K Affairs, Avinash Khanna told Express that they have kept all options open.
Khanna said the party will analyse the pros and cons of forming alliance with any regional party before deciding in its favour.
“Our Parliamentary Board will meet tomorrow(on Wednesday) morning and every possibility will be explored to provide stable government to people of J&K,” he said adding communication lines have opened.
Senior Congress leader and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party is ready for alliance with the PDP. “We had allied with the PDP and the NC in past”.