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Jammu and Kashmir: PDP-BJP alliance government to be sworn-in within a week, PDP-BJP coalition govt likely next week in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir: PDP-BJP alliance government to be sworn-in within a week

New Delhi: Two months after the results to the state assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir produced a fractured verdict, the state finally seems to be moving towards a new government.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has 28 seats in the 87-member assembly, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has 25 seats, have agreed on common minimum programme (CMP), which is understood to have addressed controversial issues such as the Article 370 and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA. A coalition government is likely to be sworn in within a week, people close to the development said on Saturday.

PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who is likely to be the chief minister for the entire six-year term, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi early next week when the announcement on government formation is expected to be made, these people said.

Ahead of the Mufti-Modi meeting, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will fly to Delhi on Sunday and meet senior BJP leaders, these people said. PDP leaders kept under wraps details of the CMP and also how the two sides ironed out contentious issues, including the Article 370, the controversial AFSPA and rehabilitation of nearly 25,000 Pakistan refugees over which they were sharply divided.

The CMP needs to be read in totality and not in bits and pieces, said leaders from both the political parties, who requested anonymity.

Both the parties have agreed to put the CMP in public domain ahead of the swearing-in of the new government, which will see BJP MLAs sitting on the ruling benches for the first time in the state assembly.

PDP and BJP have been in talks ever since the election results on 23 December gave a fractured verdict. The state is under governor’s rule for more than a month. The two sides are understood to have agreed on formation of a committee that will go into the AFSPA issue and suggest areas from where it could be revoked. On Article 370, while the BJP has given no written assurance as demanded by the PDP, the CMP is expected to say that both parties will respect the aspirations of the people of the state within the Constitution, according to the people.

According to these people, the portfolios have also been finalized with the PDP likely to walk away with home and finance while the BJP is expected to get tourism and water resources, public health engineering and planning.

BJP’s Nirmal Singh is likely to be nominated the deputy chief minister.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who has been negotiating for government formation with state leaders, denied any compromise on the crucial issues. If “compromise” was to have been made by either side, then a solution to the differences would have been found long ago. “Both the parties are trying sincerely to arrive at an understanding on CMP of governance. There are a couple of political issues on which traditionally we have held different views. We are trying hard to find a common ground,” he said.

In Jammu, BJP MP and in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Avinash Rai Khanna refused to give any details but said that the talks for government formation in the state was in its “final stage” and the state would get a “stable government” in the “shortest possible time”.

“I can only say that the dialogue between PDP and BJP that has been going for quite some time is in its final stage,” Khanna said.

When asked how long it would take for both the parties to make a formal announcement on the formation of a coalition government in the state he said, “We want it to happen by tomorrow, but I am hopeful that the formal announcement would be made very soon, in the shortest possible time”.

President of the state unit of BJP and MP from Jammu, Jugal Kishore Sharma said, “We want to discuss and reach a consensus on all the issues before we make a formal announcement (on government formation). We don’t want problems to crop up after we form the government in the state,” he said.

The PDP too said that the dialogue with the BJP has “progressed a lot” and there were positive outcomes of the dialogue process. “The dialogue has progressed a lot, but unless it’s not done, it’s not done” PDP chief spokesman Naeem Akhtar said in Jammu.

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