BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav’s visit to Srinagar on 8 August has sparked off speculation that BJP is pulling out all stops in its efforts to form a fresh government in Jammu and Kashmir - but without the PDP. Former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta who was part of the “marathon meeting” that Madhav held with senior BJP leaders confirmed to Newsclick that the BJP is set to form the govt. shortly.
“Yes, we are surely going to form the government by next month. Government is on the cards. Chances are that we might form an alliance with Sajjad Lone but never with PDP,” Gupta told Newsclick.
Madhav’s visit to Srinagar came at a time when the annual Amarnath Yatra is in its last phase. It seems that with the Yatra passing off peacefully, the efforts for cobbling together a new govt. will acquire urgency and traction. Sources said that the restrained relationship between the Centre and the current governor of the state, NN Vohra, over Article 35 A, is likely the reason behind this urgent intervention.
PDP has 28 members in the 87-member Assembly, followed by BJP (25), National Conference (15), Congress (12), Peoples Conference (2) and Independents. For BJP to come in power, it will require the support of 16 more legislators to reach the magic number of 44 in the house.
“We require 44 for the formation of the government and we are hopeful of getting the required number. We would form government by next month, September, with like-minded legislators,” Gupta asserted.
The PDP-BJP alliance govt. fell apart when BJP withdrew support to PDP on 19 June this year after a fraught three and half years. The state was subsequently put under Governor’s rule. Over two years are still left for the state assembly to complete its full six-year term.
BJP which has been maintaining silence over the formation of a government in the state underlined the necessity of a government in its party meeting. BJP leaders termed the formation of a new government “unavoidable” and “inevitable”.
According to sources, Madhav met People’s Conference chairman and ally Sajjad Gani Lone and discussed government formation in the state. Lone had aligned with BJP ahead of 2014 and his party had won two seats in the Assembly. Newsclick tried contacting Sajjad Lone for his comment but was told that he is busy in a meeting.
Replying to the rumours of revival of their old alliance with PDP, Gupta, “Not at any cost. Forming an alliance with PDP, once again, is out of question. Even if they approach us, we won’t ever agree to form an alliance with them.” However, Gupta denied that PDP had ever approached the BJP for revival of what was popularly called the “unholy” alliance.
Meanwhile, People’s Democratic Party declined to comment on this new development. Speaking to Newsclick, senior leader of the party, Naeem Akhtar said, “Madhav can meet anyone he wants to. Why would he meet us? I have nothing else to say.”
As the news of the formation of the new government gripped the Valley, people were apprehensive of what this new alliance would have to offer. “We are better off without the government. With BJP and Sajjad Lone together, we can least expect an end to the violence in the state. Kashmir would witness more turbulence. There will be bloodshed on the streets,” said a Kashmir University student on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the perpetual anxiety among people regarding this new development is clearly evident. “We don’t know what will happen now. Another government, more turbulence. We would rather prefer PDP than Sajad Lone and BJP together. BJP has already instigated lynchings in India. They will do the same here,” said a man, who wanted to remain unidentified, while sipping tea at a kiosk in Lal Chowk.
“We fear that this new government will tamper with 35 A, our special status,” he said.
Recently, on August 6, Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the batch of pleas challenging constitutional validity of Article 35 A listing the matter for August 27.