BJP hopes dialogue with PDP on government formation will start in a couple of days

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BJP hopes dialogue with PDP on government formation will start in a couple of days


Amid positive signals from PDP over government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP on Wednesday hoped a formal dialogue will be initiated by them within the next two days. BJP said it would be a part of the next government in the state following the public mandate in its favour and any arrangement that excludes it will be seen as negating it.

A delegation of senior party leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including state unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and senior leader Nirmal Singh, will meet J&K Governor N N Vohra on Thursday and discuss with him their party's plans over government- formation. The meeting will come a day after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti met the state Governor on Wednesday and dropped hints of her party was not averse to joining hands with BJP as she invoked A B Vajpayee and said the mandate in the state was an "opportunity" for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said "an initial contact has been established between the two parties" and her comments will help take forward formal discussions. "We appreciate Mehbooba Mufti's gesture through the media. We await formal initiation of dialogue," he said.

He maintained that "all options are open" for BJP as its leaders have been in talks with lower-rung PDP leaders for government-formation after the polls produced a fractured verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member Assembly closely followed by BJP with 25 seats. Sources said besides formal talks with PDP, informal talks with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti have also taken place over telephone.

Party sources add the BJP leadership has also been in talks with leaders of National Conference, including outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. BJP sources said Mehbooba's remarks will help take the state forward on the path of development by providing a stable government to the state. They said BJP expected the talks with PDP to begin in a couple of days.

Madhav said "any arrangement that excludes BJP will be seen as negating the mandate given by the people of Jammu and Kashmir." Viewing Mehbooba's talk today as a "positive gesture", he said it will take some more time for BJP to hold formal talks for government-formation. Asked about the issue of rotational Chief Minister with PDP, he said "it is premature" as talks have not reached that far.

On other contentious issues that are expected to crop up between BJP and PDP, he said "to find an amicable arrangement is not impossible. What will be the structure and shape, we will have to wait and see."  Sources said BJP is hopeful of a "positive outcome" after Wednesday's initiative by PDP but leaders said the party has its own expectations and roadmap for the state that will be discussed with parties before aligning with them for government formation.

After meeting the Governor, Mehbooba told reporters that whatever formation is firmed up, it should respect the mandate of the people and have the principle of "reconciliation", adding that "till that is not taken along, forming any government will be useless". Mehbooba said the mandate was a "challenge and opportunity" for national leadership, be it NDA or Congress.

"For NDA government, it is a big responsibility. For Modi, it is a big responsibility. Jammu and Kashmir has been the biggest challenge for any PM right from Nehru till date," Mehbooba told reporters in apparent signals to BJP that the two can discuss contentious issues that come in the way of the two parties coming together. Referring to Modi's "dream" of development and addressing the problem of unemployment, the PDP leader said there cannot be "development till there is peace on the ground".

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