And Suspense Continues In Jammu And Kashmir

25 December 2014
Iftikhar Gilani and Amita Shah

New Delhi: In the wake of a hung verdict, suspense over government formation continued in Jammu and Kashmir. How difficult decision it is for Kashmir centric parties the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party to ally with the BJP, came to fore, when cracks surfaced in the NC, forcing former chief minister Omar Abdullah to return to Srinagar cancelling his London trip. The terms of alignment which were being reported was that there will be a BJP chief minister and the Omar Abdullah-led party will get the deputy chief minister's post, one Rajya Sabha seat and one Cabinet berth at the Centre. Though there has been no confirmation it was believed the senior most NC leader in assembly Ali Mohammad Sagar will serve as deputy chief minister under the BJP chief minister. But sources close to Sagar said the deal is unacceptable to Kashmir based NC leaders. 'Sagar will resign rather serving under a BJP chief minister. Those who are hobnobbing with the BJP are selling the NC,' said NC MLA from Budgam Agha Ruhullah, a shia cleric came on record, opposing a possible tie-up with BJP. Omar chose to keep mum on the speculation, claiming his visit to Delhi was preparatory to departure to London on Saturday to meet his father Farooq Abdullah, who underwent a kidney transplant early this week, and his mother who donated the kidney for him. But almost everybody knows Abdullahs have a family reunion every year on Christmas eve in London. A senior BJP leader said that the situation is still fluid as the offer had come from the NC to let Omar Abdullah be the CM which appeared impractical since his party could secure only 15 seats as against the BJP's 25 and it is always the larger party that gets the CM's post. BJP strategists in the state say the local cadre favoured an alliance with the NC as it would give the party the dominant position. However, the party is keeping other options open and would be open to talking to PDP, the sources said. Having fallen well short of its expectations, the PDP is locked in a dilemma. Going with the BJP, will mean the PDP's Mufti Mohammed Sayeed can head a strong government, but will also mean political death of party. The PDP had run its entire campaign as the 'only party' that can stop the BJP's advance to power in J&K. Sources from PDP camp told dna there is no forward movement. Mufti, according to reports, has conveyed only two things so far: possibility of a tie-up with Congress is remote and his party should get ready to sit in opposition. But those, who know Mufti say, he may be pushing the NC to go with the BJP, to see its predicament and rebellion within. Possibility of Sajjad Gani Lone being pitch-forked as a possible chief minister to make the deal sellable in Kashmir is not ruled out though RSS is insisting on a Jammu Chief Minister, possibly Dr Nirmal Singh. JKPCC president Prof Saifudin Soz accused the BJP and NC for subverting the democratic verdict of the people He said Mufti Mohammad Sayeed should be allowed to lead a coalition with the support of other like-minded parties. The local press in Srinagar prominently published Omar's offer to support a PDP government, Mufti camp sees it non-serious and probably a balloon aimed at diverting attention. But, popular mood in Srinagar is supportive of the idea.