Interview: 'In J&K BJP and PDP must stick to each other'

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There is no official word on the government formation at Jammu and Kashmir. The government of the PDP and the BJP broke down following the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The opposition in Jammu and Kashmir has been seeking fresh polls if both parties cannot iron out their differences.

Will there be fresh polls in the state? Dr Sandeep Shastri feels that the negotiations today are all about posturing. In this interview with OneIndia, Dr Shastri says that in all likelihood the differences will be ironed out as both BJP and the PDP cannot afford polls at the moment.

Jammu Kashmir

What is your assessment of the Jammu and Kashmir scenario today?

First and foremost Jammu and Kashmir is not like any other state given its politics and history. The issues that Mehbooba Mufti is raising is linked to this factor. This is a typical challenge of a coalition that has won in two different regions of the state.

What exactly is the PDP strategising?

The strategy of the PDP leadership is to seize the moment of change in leadership and bargain for more with the hope that the central government led by the BJP will be on the back-foot. The PDP feels that the BJP can be pressurised as the latter would look to retain the alliance. The PDP is also toying with the fact that the BJP may not break the alliance given its recent performances in Delhi and Bihar.

What about the BJP?

The BJP on the other hand feels it is not appropriate to concede to the demands of the PDP. This is because of the sensitivity that surrounds the state. Moreover the BJP feels that if it concedes then its own support base in the state could erode.

If there are polls will the PDP cash in on a sympathy wave?

Many would say that the PDP would want to cash in on the sympathy wave. I am not too sure about the quantum of sympathy they may be able to garner. Mufti was no doubt a leader who was greatly respected. However his popularity was restricted to the Kashmir valley.

Is the PDP really keen on elections?

PDP on its own is not keen on elections. It is trying to garner as much as possible through negotiations. I am however not sure if this gamble will really work. Both the BJP and the PDP will look to protect its electoral interests. I would think that at this stage it is best for both parties to stick to each other.

What about the role of the National Conference?

The National Conference is playing the typical opposition role. It is trying to embarrass both the parties by blaming them for the political impasse.

Will the National Conference gain if there is an election?

In the Jammu region, I think it is very difficult for the NC to gain as the BJP is strong here. In the Valley it may make some gains as there has been some amount of disquiet regarding the BJP-PDP alliance. The NC would look to consolidate on that.

Do you see an election happening?

I do not see an election happening. The PDP does not see any advantage going to polls. I feel that the PDP and BJP will iron out the differences. The alliance is not a natural one and hence negotiations take time. Even the last time it took two months for them to negotiate.

Both will need to look at the sensitivities in the state. Moreover both will also look to retain their support base in the respective regions.

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