As Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) grapple over a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) today raised questions over Article 370 that grants special status for the state causing unease in the Kashmir-based party.
The BJP said efforts are on to secure a comprehensive CMP as far as possible but refused to give a time-frame for formation of a new government even as differences between PDP and it over the controversial issues of Article 370 and AFSPA persisted.
Last week, it was being speculated that a PDP-BJP government would be in place before the start of the Budget Session of Parliament starting February 23.
While both parties maintain that “talks are on” for “securing a comprehensive Common Minimum Programme (CMP)” for an alliance government in J and K, RSS’ National Executive Member Indaresh’s comments prompted the PDP camp to reiterate that they will not budge an inch on its position on issues like Article 370 and AFSPA.
Indaresh began by saying that “brotherhood” between the two parties was developing and during this process some questions will arise which will be resolved and once the process is complete “it will be more better”.
At the same time, he asked “will you get development by a separate state, flag, citizenship or separate Constitution? Did you get employment and education by it?”, a statement which has left some of the PDP leaders red faced.
“Today Jammu and Kashmir citizens should look at Delhi and not Islamabad. They should look at ballot and not bullet. In these elections, they have given their vote for ballot and Delhi…”
BJP, which faced a debacle in Delhi Assembly polls, is treading cautiously by trying to address concerns raised by some of the state unit leaders over the growing demands of PDP which includes a written assurance that the saffron party will not rake up Article 370. PDP and BJP have 28 MLAs and 25 MLAs respectively.
The problems for the BJP also apparently compounded as there were reports that RSS was upset over BJP’s possible compromise on Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, who has been leading the negotiations from the party side, told reporters that both BJP and PDP are making attempts for the formation of a government in the state but refused to give any time frame.
“Efforts are on to secure a comprehensive CMP as far as possible,” Madhav said.
Madhav sought to downplay differences between BJP and RSS about the voices from Sangh and said “we are talking to everyone, be it Sangh or any other party that is related to the state. We talk to some selected people only and that’s why, you may be seeing some different statements emerging from other leaders who are not in the know of developments”.
However, Madhav refused to give a deadline, saying, “I am not in a position to give any time frame or deadline for Government formation”.
PDP has been maintaining officially that the talks are on and the issues of convergence are more than those of differences, but a daily in the Valley, perceived close to PDP, quoted sources close to Sayeed as saying that PDP will not budge an inch on its demands on Article 370, AFSPA, talks with Pakistan and West Pakistan refugees.
State BJP unit leaders, after seeing hardening of PDP stand, are understood to have raised their demand for having a rotational Chief Minister, a demand over which their central party leadership are apparently not enthusiastic.
A National Conference spokesman took a dig at PDP over Indareesh’s comments,
“These are the people with whom PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed are negotiating for securing a six-year stay as Chief Ministership. This may be a tip of iceberg and people of the state are unaware of what all will be compromised by the PDP to satisfy their greed for power,” he said.
Amid speculation of government formation, Union Minister Jitendra Singh met Governor N N Vohra though the senior BJP leader said the meeting was aimed at discussing administration-related issues.
“As the Governor is the head of the administration in Jammu and Kashmir, I met him to discuss various administration -related issues…there were issues regarding the Centre and state that we discussed,” Singh told reporters soon after his hour-long meeting with Vohra in Jammu.
To a question regarding the delay in the government formation, Singh said, “There are certain authorised leaders within the party, who are holding deliberations and discussions on the issue of the government formation in the state and only they can comment on that.”
When asked to comment on the reported displeasure shown by RSS on BJP offering concessions to the PDP on the core ideology of the party he said, “I cannot speak on the issue as I am not authorised to speak on these issues.”
A Raj Bhawan spokesman said that Governor Vohra and Singh discussed some important issues relating to the development of the state.
“Union MoS and the Governor discussed various important issues relating to the growth and development of the state and matters relating to internal security management,” he said.