The election to four Rajya Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to become a catalyst for government formation in the state as the PDP and BJP appear to have entered into an understanding on seat sharing.
However, Independents and smaller parties might come in the way of a clean sweep for the two parties.
Sources in the PDP said today that the party has agreed with BJP that they will not field candidates against each other in Rajya Sabha elections, the voting for which will be held on February 7.
Rajya Sabha polls have hastened the government formation talks between PDP and BJP and the deadlock over the issue might come to an end within the next 15 days, the sources said.
The official line taken by PDP is that it needs a seat- sharing arrangement for Rajya Sabha polls. But the party has declined to name the outfit with which it is looking to enter into an understanding.
“We will have to have a seat-sharing arrangement with one of the parties to safeguard PDP’s interest and win all the four seats,” said Naeem Akhtar, PDP’s chief spokesman.
PDP has already announced two candidates for the polls — Nazir Ahmad Laway and Fayaz Ahmad Mir, both of whom unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections from Kulgam and Kupwara seats, respectively, losing narrowly.
BJP’s state vice president, Ramesh Arora, meanwhile, neither denied nor confirmed the seat-sharing agreement with the PDP for Rajya Sabha polls.
“The process is going on… We will let you know in due course of time,” he said.
The Election Commission on January 21 issued three notifications for the four Rajya Sabha seats in the state — one each for two seats and another for the remaining two. While 44 votes will be required to win the seats for which separate notifications have been issued, 30 votes each will ensure victory on the remaining two seats.
PDP, with 28 seats, is the single-largest party in the state Assembly, which is currently in suspended animation, while BJP has 25 seats and enjoys the support of at least two other MLAs in the 87-member house.
The numbers under PDP-BJP together are enough to get them three seats but the opposition camp — National Conference (15 seats) and Congress (12 seats) — can run away with the fourth seat.
NC working President Omar Abdullah said his party is discussing the various possibilities for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. Omar, however, did not reveal the parties with which NC was holding discussions in this regard.
In case NC and Congress can come to an understanding for fielding a common candidate, two MLAs are ready to support them.
“It is unthinkable for me to support any combination of which BJP is a part. I will support any group minus the BJP,” said CPI(M) state secretary Mohd Yousuf Tarigami, the MLA from Kulgam.
Similar views were echoed by Independent MLA from Langate, Sheikh Abdul Rashid.
However, the Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) MLA from Khansahib, Hakim Mohammad Yasin, has left the doors open to support any alliance.
“There is still a lot of time for the polls. I will decide about it in due course,” Yasin said.
Governor’s rule was imposed in the state on January 8, a day after Omar asked Governor N N Vohra to relieve him of the duties of caretaker chief minister with immediate effect.