Aside

BJP-PDP coalition must deal with separatist issue

amitmehboobaSRINAGAR: The 11-page draft of a common minimum programme (CMP) by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP for a coalition regime in Jammu and Kashmir talks of dialogue with Pakistan as well as with the separatists, and also carries an assurance on retaining the state’s special status.

However, apparently considering reservations of the Centre’s ruling party BJP, the draft is cautious on withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and senior MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig, met with BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday in New Delhi and ironed out various issues in a 45-minute meeting.

Following the meeting PDP and BJP said  they would jointly form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir, the first time the BJP will be in power in the Muslim-majority state.

Mehbooba’s meeting with Shah paved the way for PDP patron and chief ministerial candidate Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while is likely to happen in a week’s time. Thus, the state could see a new government only in March, not this month.

Peace push

Sources said the agenda draft says the two partners will extend support to engagement with Pakistan, and work together towards creating a conducive atmosphere by pushing for confidence-building measures (CBMs). The CMP, sources added, agrees that the two parties will also work towards expanding trade and movement across the Line of Control (LoC) by supporting joint activities, such as tourism.

The two parties pledge to work as facilitators in a dialogue with all stakeholders and shades of opinion in the state, including the separatist Hurriyat Conference; and it does not mention any conditions for such talks.

Other key points

On another crucial issue, the parties have agreed to maintain the constitutional status of the state, without expressly referring to Article 370. Even during the poll campaign, the BJP had toned down its long-held demand of the Article’s repeal and said the matter should be discussed.

However, the BJP remains non-committal on outright removal of the AFSPA. The agenda draft says the two parties, with the Centre on board, would make efforts to look into the possibility to do away with the Disturbed Areas Act.

The BJP with 25 seats and PDP with 28 in the House of 87 are engaged in talks stretching over seven weeks and counting, to iron out differences on contentious issues.

J&K saw a hung assembly in December last when Kashmir largely voted for the PDP and Jammu for the BJP. – From The Hindustan Times

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