Admitting that there is a possibility of a third front as people are looking for change, Baig asserted that if such situation emerges, he would "seriously consider joining it".
In a fresh to the changing political dynamics in Jammu and Kashmir, senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) party leader and Member of Parliament Muzaffar Hussain Baig has backed Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Lone and said he will “seriously consider” joining the third front. This assumes significance as there have been indications that the PDP, Congress and the National Conference may join hands to form a popular government in the state. Jammu and Kashmir is currently under the Governor’s rule after BJP-PDP coalition collapsed in April this year. On June 19, Mehbooba Mufti sent her resignation to the Governor after the BJP announced that it was withdrawing support to the PDP.
Admitting that there is a possibility of a third front as people are looking for change, Baig asserted that if such situation emerges, he would “seriously consider joining it”. Talking about his cordial relationship with Lone, Baig said he was a friend of Lone’s father Abdul Gani Lone and had also prepared the constitution of Peoples Conference. Abdul Gani Lone was assassinated by Pakistan-backed militants in 2002.
Sajjad Lone has said he was humbled by the statement from Baig. “A person of his stature, experience and intellect can be the defining attribute of the emerging third party. I remember him as my favourite uncle during my childhood. I was his pampered brat.” The growing bonhomie between Lone and Baig is crucial given Lone’s attmpts at trying to form a third front in Kashmir with the support from Shia leader and PDP legislator Imran Ansari.
Political arithmetic in Jammu and Kashmir
Lone was a minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government and is aware of intricacies of the Valley’s politics. There were reports that efforts were underway to prop up a government headed by Lone’s People Conference. Even though the People Conference has only two MLAs, it would be banking on support from the 25 MLAs of BJP.
However, this combination won’t be sufficient to gather the required majority of 44. However, the remaining numbers can be gathered if PDP, which has been rocked by dissidence, splits.
To counter this move, Congress, PDP and the National Conference are in touch to join hands to form a government. PDP and Congress were coalition partners in a state government between 2002 to 2007 and are hopeful of support from the National Conference from outside. The PDP has 28 MLAs, followed by NC with 15 and Congress with 12, making up for a clear majority.