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PDP Rebels to Help BJP Win Back J&K? Big Announcement Expected After Amarnath Yatra

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 89 seats and any party or coalition would need 44 seats to stake claim to form the government. The BJP already has 25 members, while the PDP has 28, Congress 12 and National Conference 15.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:July 2, 2018, 6:05 PM IST
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PDP Rebels to Help BJP Win Back J&K? Big Announcement Expected After Amarnath Yatra
File photo of BJP in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav with then deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta and BJP state chief Ravinder Raina. (PTI)
New Delhi: The BJP may make a major political announcement in Jammu and Kashmir after the Amarnath Yatra wraps up, sources close to the party leadership told News18, adding that a big breakaway faction of the PDP is ready to join the saffron party.

If and when the switch happens, the BJP may stake claim to form the government in the state, with similar breakaway MLAs from the Congress and the National Conference providing the remaining numbers.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 89 seats and any party or coalition would need 44 seats to stake claim to form the government. The BJP already has 25 members, while the PDP has 28, Congress 12 and National Conference 15.

Jammu and Kashmir is currently under Governor’s Rule following the collapse of the Mehbooba Mufti government last month.

"Nobody is willing to face elections and nobody wants to sit out of power for quarter to three years. We have made the necessary arrangements. If all goes well with the Amarnath Yatra, we may make an announcement sometime in late August or early September," said a senior BJP leader and former minister in the recent BJP-PDP coalition.

Rumours of the BJP trying to cobble up a coalition were floating around soon after it pulled the plug on its three-year-old coalition with the PDP. The rumours were strengthened when Ram Madhav, the BJP in-charge of J&K and the 'chief architect' of the historic alliance in 2014, was seen together with some BJP MLAs at Sajjad Lone's residence. It was said that the meeting was held to discuss government formation and support of MLAs from other parties.

The meeting with Lone, held just 10 days after the BJP pulled out support, seemed portentous because he was the first Kashmiri leader to offer support to the BJP and hail Prime Minister Narendra Modi as one “who can change the fortunes of Jammu and Kashmir” and call him an “elder brother” before the state elections.

Lone was in touch with Ram Madhav before the state elections and is said to have close working relationship with top party leadership. His party — the People’s Conference — won two seats in the assembly polls. The picture with Lone and other BJP leaders was first put out by Ram Madhav on his Twitter account.

The National Conference has since the implementation of Governor's rule been calling for the Governor to dissolve the Assembly and pave way for fresh elections to take place five to six months from now. However, NN Vohra has given no such indication.

Madhav had also met Vohra during his day-long Srinagar trip on June 27.

One of the BJP leaders, who was part of that meeting, spoke to News18 on condition of anonymity. "Yes, we discussed government formation. It's true. We are looking at all possibilities. Maidan khaali hai (The field is empty). Everyone is looking for possibilities. Everything seems possible right now. Let's wait for the yatra to get over."

Sources told News18 that a section within the PDP has been eager to breakaway and support the BJP for a long time now. The sources added that between January 2016, when PDP founder Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died, and April that year, when Mehbooba took a long time to decide the terms of her party's engagement with BJP, two senior leaders from the PDP had told the saffron party in very clear terms that they were willing to break away. However, the BJP is understood to have not considered the move to split the PDP appropriate then.

Large-scale dissatisfaction among senior leadership and cadre within the PDP, owing to several factors, including her alleged focus on furthering her brother's political career and sacking some party veterans unceremoniously, are seen to be contributing towards a split in the party.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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