It seems Jammu and Kashmir will finally get a government after all, and the PDP and BJP will be able to set aside their differences. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 22 March, and called it 'positive' meeting.
The political crisis in the state has lasted nearly three months since the death of Chief Minister and PDP patriarch Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. But on Tuesday, his daughter Mehbooba finally travelled to Delhi to meet Modi at the PM's residence, 7, Race Course Road.
After the meeting, she told mediapersons: "There was a stalemate for the last two to three months over government formation in the state. Now I am satisfied. I am very satisfied."
Mehbooba plans to call a meeting of PDP MLAs on Thursday. She said: "We are meeting on Thursday, and the future course of action would be decided then."
It is expected that while Modi and other BJP leaders celebrate Holi with colours and sweets, Mehbooba will give them another gift with a formal announcement on government formation.
Sources within the BJP say that Thursday's PDP meeting is a mere formality. "Things are on the right track, and we are going to form the government in the state," a BJP leader told Catch.
Mehbooba had earlier met BJP president Amit Shah and the party's point person for Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav. However, these meetings were not 'positive' enough to break the logjam.
Only last week, Mehbooba had told Shah that "the agenda of the alliance should be restored to move forward", to which the BJP had responded by saying it had not backed out of anything that was agreed beforehand, and that it wouldn't accept any more fresh demands.
Mufti died on 7 January, and Mehbooba, his heir apparent, was expected to succeed him. She refused to take charge until after the seven-day mourning period was over, and the BJP agreed to support her.
But there was no resolution. The matter dragged on and on, and even a series of talks and efforts to revive the alliance failed.
Mehbooba sensed that there was a desperation within the BJP to remain in power, and she thought this could be used as leverage to get an arrangement more favourable to the PDP.
The delay made the BJP restless, and Mehbooba refused to budge from her stand that the agenda of the alliance had to be reviewed.
But Mehbooba miscalculated one thing - the BJP wouldn't lose much if it isn't part of the government in the state, but she and her party had everything to lose. Currently, the political environment in J&K is not very favourable for the PDP, and the BJP decided to use this weakness against her.
The new agreement actually confirms that it is the BJP, and not the PDP, which finds itself in a stronger position in the alliance. The failure to form the government, worries about a split in the PDP and the BJP's statement that it was 'open to other options' actually forced Mehbooba to concede her seemingly invincible position and back down.
The December 2014 elections saw clear gains for the PDP in the Kashmir valley and the BJP in the Jammu region. The anti-incumbency factor worked against Omar Abdullah's National Conference government, but the Assembly itself was hung.
The PDP and the BJP joined hands to form the government, but this was not something that the people of either region would welcome. This has led to a decline in both the parties' popularity.
This is precisely why calling for fresh elections was not a possibility for either the PDP or the BJP, because they knew they would both have to pay a price for the alliance. But the loss would obviously be bigger for the PDP than the BJP - after all, the latter is a national party and the former a state party, for which this would be a suicidal move.
Given the BJP's strong line on the issue of nationalism and the RSS's refusal to go soft on the Kashmir issue, there was little scope for the PDP to bargain with the BJP. Many party leaders privately disagreed with Mehbooba, making her life more miserable.
Now, Mehbooba is doing what she should've ideally done in the first place - go ahead with the alliance and try to gain more power and ground in the state.
In return, according to sources, the Prime Minister has agreed to grant some special help to the state. There could also be some relaxation in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which Mehbooba could then claim as her victory in front of the people of the state.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
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