Wahid Bhat | Srinagar, New Delhi
Amid the rancor of electoral politics in five states, Jammu & Kashmir has suddenly struck the nation’s attention with a new alliance brewing in the valley between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC) and the Congress to form the next government.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday wrote to Governor Satyapal Malik about securing the support of 56 MLAs to stake the claim in the assembly. In a letter to the Governor, Mufti said that PDP is the largest party in the state with a strength of 29 MLAs along with 15 from NC and 12 from the Congress they would shortly stake the claim for forming the government. Moments after releasing of the letter on social media, the governor dissolved the assembly creating a political stalemate in J&K.
Senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari had claimed that an alliance of 60 MLAs from Congress, PDP and NC has been reached to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir. The new development comes just days after Governor Styapal Malik hinted of an impending President’s rule in the state.
Bukhari, the former finance minister said that the alliance has been formed to protect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 370 and Article 35A. “We have to keep communal forces at bay. To keep BJP away, we are coming together to form the government. It depends whether the Governor will dissolve assembly before that or will allow them to form the next government, but people will get good news by tomorrow.”
Who ever said “may you live in interesting times” knew what they were talking about.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 21, 2018
Speculation have been rife since Tuesday night that the three parties were planning to join forces to restrict BJP’s chances of returning to power. However, BJP reportedly said Congress was trying to form the government with PDP to ensure that its own leader does not abandon the party. Some leaders in Congress and not happy with the party leadership, BJP is keeping an eye on the situation, the sources said.
— Groundreport.in (@GReportIndia) November 21, 2018
J&K has been under Governor’s rule since BJP pulled out of the ruling coalition with PDP on June 16, earlier this year. Political corners in J&K have been agog with speculation that efforts are underway to prop up a government headed by Sajjad Lone’s People Conference, which has only two MLAs, with the support of 25 BJP legislators. However, this combination would fall short of the required majority of 44.
Both the PDP and Congress have been partners in a government between 2002 to 2007, backed from outside by the NC.
The National Conference sources made it clear that they were not interested in joining a coalition government but would not be averse to giving outside support to a PDP-Congress coalition. If such an arrangement comes about, Mehbooba Mufti is unlikely to be the chief minister but the government may be headed by a senior PDP leader. Coming together of traditionally bitter rivals, the PDP and the NC, would mark a significant realignment of political forces in the state. The National Conference had offered its support to the PDP after the 2014 assembly polls but the latter ignored the offer and aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 21, 2018
After the June 16 pull-out, Lone is understood to have been approaching disgruntled PDP leaders for forming an alliance with the BJP, the sources said.
Congress reaction over formation of Govt
Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir confirming the talks for the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir said the three parties—National Conference, PDP and Congress—are reaching a consensus soon. “We are ready to support secular forces. The formal meeting will take place soon regarding the formation of the government in the state as all the three parties are reaching a consensus,” Mir said.
“All secular parties have come together for the bigger interest of state and public. For saving constitution may it be Article 370 and 35A, we have to rise above party lines especially when eminent dangers are bigger,” said G A Mir, PDP and NC will stake claims for the government in next few hours. Mir added that It is a serious situation and for the sake of people with secular-minded parties like PDP, NC and Congress should join hands.”
BJP on new alliance in J&K
Former Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kavinder Gupta claimed that the PDP, NC and Congress were coming together “on the directions from Pakistan”. Gupta was reacting to reports that the three parties were holding talks to form the next government in the state currently under governor’s rule. BJP leader Kavinder Gupta levelled serious allegations, claiming that PDP-NC-Congress were “hobnobbing” with Pakistani agencies to “keep nationalist forces out of the state.”
Pakistan behind Grand Alliance of Congress, PDP & NC : Former Dy CM and MLA Sh. Kavinder Gupta
Media Source pic.twitter.com/VS5dfCXi43
— BJP Jammu & Kashmir (@BJP4JnK) November 21, 2018
“These parties are coming together to form the government on directions of Pakistan just to keep BJP away,” said Gupta, in a hurriedly called press conference at the party headquarters in Jammu. Gupta claimed that the representatives of these parties had recently met members of Pakistani agencies recently. He reportedly said, “On their behest, they are cobbling the alliance.