J-K Govt Formation: State In For Long Haul As PDP Is Willing To Wait

27 December 2014
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

Srinagar: The PDP said Saturday it wouldn't mind a few days of governor's rule while NC's Omar Abdullah appeared to bow out of the race by flying off to London, twin indications that Jammu and Kashmir will have to wait longer for the new government. The Peoples Democratic Party that got the highest - 28 seats - said it was weighing all options but was in no hurry to form the government. 'It's a very tough call. We will take time,' party spokesman Nayeem Akhter told Hindustan Times. The party wouldn't mind a few days of governor's rule 'if arriving at a decision takes time', he said. No single party got the numbers to rule the border state when the result was declared on December 23 for the 87-member House. Referring to 2002, he said the PDP took a month to seal the alliance with the Congress. 'Even this time we would want to do what is best for the people of Kashmir,' he said. The new government has to be in place by January 19, when the term of the outgoing assembly ends, or the state will be put under the governor's rule. Governor NN Vohra had Friday invited the PDP and the BJP, which finished second with 25 seats, for discussions over government formation. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which opened talks with the PDP Thursday, said it would be part of the government. 'Talks are going on. Let's see what happens,' general secretary Ram Madhav said in New Delhi after returning from the state. Together the PDP and the BJP will have 53 MLAs, way above the majority mark of 44. But, the PDP leadership is torn over aligning with the BJP, fearing the tie-up would compromise its support base. The party got most of its seats in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where, according to analysts, people turned up in large numbers to vote against the BJP, ignoring the separatists' call for a poll boycott. The BJP got all its seats in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. The Congress, with 12 MLAs, has twice offered support to the PDP, which also has the backing of a few independents. 'Neither the Congress nor the PDP has a single Hindu MLA the alliance will look very Kashmir-centric and Jammu will feel left out,' a PDP leader explained the party's dilemma. The PDP also said revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and safeguarding Article 370, which guarantees special status to the state, was non-negotiable. The BJP is for scrapping Article 370, though it skirted the issue while campaigning. The PDP might insist on a common minimum programme with a mention of the two and other contentious issues, sources said. 'The NC, PDP, Congress and independents should unitedly resist any move by the BJP to form a government,' CPM senior leader and MLA from Kulgam MY Tarigami said Saturday. Tarigami said he was in talks with other independents as well. Though an alliance with the National Conference looks highly unlikely, Akhtar said the offer would be considered once it comes. With 15 seats, the NC can play a key role but withdrew from the race after senior leaders expressed reservations over a possible tie-up with the BJP. Party leader and outgoing CM Omar Abdullah left for London, tweeting, 'Seated & strapped in. London here I come' as uncertainty continued in the Himalayan state.