Srinagar: A new government may well be formed in Jammu and Kashmir now that three political parties have decided to cobble together a coalition government.
The unexpected development, which has taken people by surprise, is in the last stage of its finalisation. As of now, the PDP and Congress are leading the parleys and the National Conference has maintained a low profile but has conveyed its nod to lending support to a united front against the BJP. The nitty-gritty of the equation is being discussed and it is not clear yet if the NC will provide external support or will join the government.
Internally, the coming together of the trio has been mandated by the emergence of the Peoples Conference-led by Sajjad Lone, who is courting support from the BJP, for leading a “third front”.
Kashmir Reader learnt that a meetings of the political parties were held at the Srinagar residence of PDP politician-turned-businessman Altaf Bukhari. In the last two weeks, Bukhari has held several meetings with state Congress chief GA Mir in Srinagar for government formation. But those parleys away from the media were going on at a slow pace and nothing had come out of them so far.
But PDP co-founder Muzaffar Beigh’s hint at joining the Peoples Conferences a day ago intensified the process for a quick government formation.
On Wednesday, a meeting took place at Bukhari’s Srinagar residence wherein Congress leaders also participated. The parties unanimously agreed on defending Article 35A and it, apart from other issues, will form the basis of government formation.
Article 35A, which grants special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir citizens, is under legal challenge in Supreme Court, where the case is listed for hearing in January next year. In the wake of this, the NC and PDP boycotted the civic elections citing the non-committal stance of Government of India in defending the special status.
The announcement of a coalition to form the next government is likely to follow, as Altaf Bukhari said today that people will hear “good news” shortly. “It is expected that the political parties will stake claim for government formation today,” a source said.
“The contours of the alliance will be discussed. Right now, I can say leaders have agreed to form the government,” said Bukhari,” as elected representatives, we have to respond to situation. It not not about chief ministership.”
On the other hand, Lone along with Imran Ansari after winding up their trip from London are returning to India after news of the unexpected development in the Valley. Sources said that the coming together of the three parties has taken both Lone and his ally BJP by surprise.
Last night, BJP leader Bali Baghat had hinted about a “big political move” in Jammu and Kashmir without giving any details. Soon after the development, senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta alleged the three parties were coming together to form the government on the directions of Pakistan. He did not back up the allegations with evidence.
The political checkmate has worried the BJP, which was emboldened by the success of Peoples Conference in the municipal polls in Kashmir. The BJP was relying on Lone for managing the magical number of 44. He was expected to lure more members from the embattled PDP, which is facing internecine struggle within after the collapse of the Mehbooba-led government.
The journey ahead, however, does not appear to be smooth for the new alliance. They are aware as well as worried about the “spoilsport” that Raj Bhawan can play. The Governor Satya Pal Malik, who is from BJP, is likely to face pressure from the Narendra Modi government to scuttle the chances of the emerging grand alliance.
“All arrangements are in final stage to form the government, which is need of the hour to stymie the crisis faced in Kashmir,” a source said, adding, “Kashmir is already burning and horse-trading has added fuel to fire.”
A majority view within the three parties is that the grand alliance will serve as an “inspiration” for political parties to stymie communal forces across India in the national elections next year.
Jammu and Kashmir is under Governor’s rule from June 20 after the BJP divorced the PDP. In the new scheme of things, instead of Mehbooba, Bukhari is expected to be the chief ministerial candidate.
Except for the BJP and Lone, all the political parties were seeking dissolution of the legislative assembly to prevent horse-trading of legislators. But the governor ruled it out till the assembly completes its six-year term or fresh elections are held.
The state, according to J&K Constitution, can stay under governor’s rule for six months and no more. After that, the state will by default come under President’s rule. Governor’s rule expires on December 19.