PM Modi to Take Call Now on Coalition Government for Jammu and Kashmir

File photo of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

Srinagar:

There was buzz that Jammu and Kashmir would finally get a new government this week, but talks between the Peoples Democratic Party or PDP and the BJP have hit a last-mile hurdle, say sources.

The roadblock, the sources said, is a written assurance that the PDP wants stating that the present constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir will be maintained. The regional party placed first, with the BJP coming second in elections held nearly two months ago. The polls threw up a hung assembly.

Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now take a final call on the common minimum programme or CMP on the basis of which the two parties plan to govern Jammu and Kashmir, with the PDP's Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as chief minister.

Negotiations between the two parties, seen as unlikely partners, have been on for weeks. The PDP, which swept the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, has been firmly opposed to any attempt to weaken Article 370, which is seen as vital for the autonomy of the state by residents. It makes the consent of the state government necessary for laws except those related to defence or national security.

In the past, BJP leaders have suggested that the need for Article 370 should be debated because it promotes separatism. Sources said the BJP is not ready to backtrack completely on its stand and is pushing for a nuanced position on Article 370.

The PDP has also asked for a phased withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the army the authority to make arrests without warrants. It is said to have suggested that the mechanism could be reinstated if necessary and sources said the two parties could settle on a flexible stand.  

The BJP, fronted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, won its best-ever result in India's only Muslim-majority state, but its gains were made entirely in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. Till its defeat in the Delhi assembly elections last week, the BJP had formed the government in four of five states that held elections since the PM took office in May, and has hoped to add Jammu and Kashmir to the list.