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Vohra sounds out PDP & BJP, sets ball rolling

Following the deadlock over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Governor NN Vohra on Friday sent separate letters to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP, inviting them to come forward with their proposal. The Governor invited them to clarify their stand, sources said, after going through reports of BJP and PDP making a firm pitch to rope in other parties in a bid to form the government in the valley.

Sources said, the Governor has sent two separate letters, one to PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the other to state BJP chief Jugal Kishore asking them for discussions on who will form the government. BJP with 25 seats had tried to rope in former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s National Conference (15). But it seems that differences over key portfolios derailed a possible post poll alliance, despite a ‘verbal commitment’ from Omar that they were ready to support BJP, if approached.

Meanwhile, in a significant political development, the BJP has begun parleys with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has emerged as the single-largest party with 28 seats. On Thursday evening, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav arrived in Srinagar from Jammu, and held two separate rounds of talks with senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig. Sources said, the first round was held at Baig’s residence and the second took place at a hotel where Madhav was staying.

Based on  reports of the meeting between BJP-PDP, the governor sent two separate letters seeking their views. Apart from PDP, BJP leaders are also in talks with other smaller parties and independent candidates leaving others guessing on their possible alliance partner/ partners . PDP spokesperson Samir Koul said, “Talks are going on with BJP over government-formation in the state. But it will take some time before we can make any announcement.” Asked whether they will agree to the terms and condition of the BJP or vice versa, Koul said, “Let, there be a stable government then other things will follow suit.”

“There are differences on certain issues like Article 370 (which guarantees a special status to Jammu and Kashmir) and revocation of AFSPA in the state. We will not compromise on these matters,” he said. Two other key players, the National Conference (NC) which got 15 seats and the Congress (12 seats), continued efforts to keep BJP out of power by offering support to PDP, whose response is still under wraps.

Omar, who has already claimed that they had no dialogue with BJP over government formation, tweeted that only ‘a verbal offer of support’ has been conveyed to the PDP. But it looks like ‘PDP is playing mind games with the BJP,’ his tweet reads. Reacting to the political moves in the valley, senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “The way BJP is bulldozing regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir is being insensitive towards the mandate and people of the state.”

As speculation continued over PDP either allying with BJP, or Congress with outside support of NC along with independents, sources in  the party said that Sayeed was not ready for rotational Chief Ministership with BJP.
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