PDP unlikely to join Narendra Modi in Delhi
SRINAGAR: After overcoming differences and stitching up an alliance with the BJP to form a government in J&K, the next issue for the People's Democratic Party is whether to join the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.
The matter may come up when PDP leader and chief minister in waiting Mufti Mohammad Sayeed meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week. While the BJP isn't revealing much, the PDP appears divided on the issue.
"Honestly, I don't know and I think the party president and the prime minister must be knowing," Nirmal Singh, a senior BJP leader who is slated to be deputy chief minister, told Media, adding that the state government formation is in the final stage as the two parties have agreed on certain issues.
At least two key PDP leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity said there is "absolutely no possibility" of joining the Modi government at the Centre. "Even last time, we had Ms Mehbooba Mufti in parliament when the UPA was ruling and there were pressures (to join)," one leader said. "We did not join and we are repeating this with the NDA as well."
While they said the partnership with the BJP was dictated by the hung house, the leaders acknowledged they would have to manage a lot of pressure within the party.
Two MPs - Muzaffar Hussain Beig and Tariq Hameed Karra - are said to be keen on the PDP joining the NDA so that the state gets a fair share in the central government as well.
BJP's Jitendra Singh Rana is a Minister of State with a portfolio that includes the Prime Minister's Office.
A section of the PDP supports the idea of party president Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed joining the Modi cabinet for some years, although she is said to be unwilling. She has never been part of the government even after being elected to the state assembly thrice and to the Lok Sabha twice.
The PDP and the BJP took almost two months to negotiate a deal on forming a government in the state and reach consensus on a common minimum programme after overcoming differences over three key issues - revoking the AFSPA, Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status to J&K and the plight of West Pakistan refugees.
While the BJP agreed to use "respecting and upholding constitutional guarantees" instead of Article 370, the PDP was "satisfied" with the creation of a "review" committee comprising officials from the central and state governments with the stakeholders on AFSPA, with no timelines. The PDP also agreed that it understands the West Pakistan refugees issue is a "humanitarian" one.
The two parties are giving the finishing touches to the common minimum programme. "It is now expected any time," PDP spokesman Naeem Akhter said. A new government is likely to be sworn in on Saturday.
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