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Talks between BJP, PDP over J&K government formation in decisive phase; PM Modi to take final call

Amid intense negotiations over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, there are reports that a deal could be reached between the BJP and the PDP on Tuesday.

So far, the two parties have held over 15 rounds of talks and the latest will be held.

Also, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO, who is tipped to be the deputy chief minister in the possible BJP-PDP coalition government, met J&K Governor NN Vohra.

He, however, described the meeting as strictly personal. “This is purely a personal meeting. I came here to extend my invitation for a wedding in the family,” Singh said.

The meeting came amid reports that talks between the two parties are in a decisive phase and a decision on alliance and government formation could be announced any time now.

It has been reported that the final call now needs to be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, amid speculation that the sealing of alliance has been stuck on the issues of AFSPA and Article 370.

Agency reports claimed that the BJP has already given in to PDP’s claim to chief minister’s post for the full six-year term. PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed will take over the post when a new government is formed.

“The BJP will have the deputy chief minister and a major share in portfolios to ensure equitable development of all the three regions of the state. We feel to forge a development-oriented ruling alliance with the PDP in the country’s only Muslim majority state would do good to the image of the BJP nationally and internationally,” said senior BJP leader in Jammu.

The leader, requesting anonymity, said at the same time the party would not make any compromises on its “basic principles”.

The BJP’s stand on contentious issues like Article 370, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the settlement of west Pakistan refugees in Jammu and Kashmir has been diagonally opposed to that of the PDP.

The PDP has been seeking firm assurances on protection of Article 370, while the BJP is for a national debate on whether this temporary provision of the Indian Constitution, granting special status to J&K, should stay or go.

According to the PDP, the west Pakistan refugees are not permanent residents of the state, as it existed before the accession of J&K to India in 1947. Therefore, the PDP says there is no constitutional or legal justification in granting these refugees the same rights like other citizens.

Incidentally, these refugees who came here after the India-Pakistan wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971 do not have the right to buy property or vote in the state Assembly Elections, though they can vote in the Parliamentary Elections.

While the BJP maintains that the AFSPA can only be revoked after the security forces recommend it, the PDP wants its gradual withdrawal to be determined by the state government and not the security forces.

PDP’s chief spokesman Naeem Akhtar, however, dismissed reports that an agreement on an alliance is likely to be announced within the next two to three days.

“We have to agree on a CMP (common minimum programme) in a transparent, structured dialogue. The CMP would be made public before the PDP and the BJP stake claim to form the government,” he said.

Even BJP’s GVL Narasimha Rao today said, “Discussions did take place between PDP and BJP over government formation in J&K. There are issues to be discussed; it’s too early to give any time.”

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