J&K govt formation: PDP, BJP may shake hands but hiccups remain

Srinagar/Jammu, Jan 1: The PDP and the BJP, the two largest groups in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, said Thursday they were prepared to form a government amid signs of problems in stitching an alliance.

A day after a Peoples Democratic Party delegation met Governor N.N. Vohra, a BJP team called on him Thursday briefly and then said that it was committed to giving the state a stable government.

J&k govt formation: PDP, BJP may shake hands but hiccups remain.
A PDP leader told IANS that channels of communication were open between the two parties. "But a structured dialogue is yet to start," PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar said.

BJP state president Jugul Kishore said earlier that the BJP was committed to forming a stable government in the troubled state.

And he added that formal talks on establishing a coalition with the PDP were set to begin.

The PDP agreed, saying Kashmir needed a stable government to surmount the multiple problems it is facing.

"The talks are going to begun, the talks will be held in a congenial atmosphere," Jugal Kishore said.

The PDP has 28 members in the 87-member hung house and the BJP 25.

"The priority is a stable government," Kishore said. "We are not in a hurry to form a government."

He said any coalition government which takes office will be in power for six years until the next election.

On Wednesday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav greeted PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti's laudatory reference to former prime minister and the now ailing BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

PDP insiders said Thursday that there were roadblocks that would have to be removed before starting a structured dialogue on power sharing starts between the PDP and the BJP.

"We are in conformity with the BJP on development, tackling corruption and unemployment, and industry and tourism. But the ideological divergence will have to find some meeting ground," said the source.

The PDP and the BJP appear to realize that the highly polarized verdict -- the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley voted for the former and the overwhelmingly Hindu Jammu region voted for the latter -- will have to be reconciled and a common minimum programme unveiled.

PDP insiders admit that allowing the differences to remain unresolved could force a spell of Governor's rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

Neither party has publicly stated what the problems are but sources in both say there are differences over what constitutes the Kashmir problem, as well as whether one party will hold the chief minister's post for six years or if the post will be shared during the six-year period.

Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, has always had a Muslim chief minister. If the BJP gets to govern the state, it will get a Hindu chief minister.


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