Congress, NC, PDP leaders discussed forming J&K govt 'over past few days'; no Omar or Mehbooba as CM was precondition

The National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held a series of meetings the past few days to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the Congress. The NC has sought to have a chief minister appointed from its party.

Former minister and NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani confirmed to this reporter that leaders of the two parties had met over the past few days to discuss government formation in the state.

"Lots of people have met, and it has been going on for a few days now. One of the formulas is that neither Mehbooba Mufti nor Omar Abdullah becomes the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. But there are also discussions on that the government has to be NC-led. If it isn't going to be led by Omar saheb, then we are going to have to think about who else can lead us," Nasir said.

"There are many people who have met at various levels, and it is good that regional mainstream parties are meeting and talking for the first time," he said.

On Wednesday, former state finance minister and senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari also met former chief minister Omar Abdullah. The meeting is believed to have been over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, but Bukhari claimed he had only greeted Omar on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

File photos of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

File photos of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

On the meeting between Omar and Bukhari, Nasir said it was not just the two of them meeting, and that such meetings had been "going on for a few days now".

However PDP vice president Abdul Rehman Veeri claimed he was not aware of any meeting between the NC and PDP over forming the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Together, the NC, PDP and Congress have the requisite numbers to form the government in the state. The PDP has 28 MLAs, the NC 15 and Congress 12 in the Legislative Assembly, in which 44 legislators are required to stake claim for government formation. The BJP has 25 MLAs and the People’s Conference, a strength of two legislators.

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, has also called for a meeting on Friday to discuss the "modalities for government formation in the state".

Sources in the NC and Congress said the meetings were held as the BJP was seeking to form the government in the state in alliance with a "Third Front", which would be led by former minister and People's Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone. Former deputy chief minister and PDP MP Muzaffar Hussain Beigh has been meeting Lone for the past two to three months to discuss the possibility of government formation in Jammu and Kashmirs. At a press conference on Tuesday, Beigh had hinted at the possibility of joining the People's Conference to form the state government.

State Congress vice president Ghulam Nabi Monga confirmed that the Congress had called for a meeting of party leaders in New Delhi on Friday, and that Azad will chair the meeting.

After the 2014 Assembly elections had produced a a hung verdict, Azad had floated the idea of a grand alliance of secular parties, including the NC, Congress and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, to keep the BJP out of power. Monga said that the Congress was in favour of seeking a dissolution of Legislative Assembly at the moment, while stressing that there was a "need to check the BJP from disturbing the conditions in the state".

However, even as the NC, Congress and PDP are in discussion on government formation, the People's Conference has also said that it was "in talks with PDP MLAs over government formation in the state".

Senior People's Conference leader and MLA Bashir Ahmad Dar said both Lone and Beigh have held frequent meetings. He added that a Third Front government in the state "would be led by the People's Conference". "Discussions have happened over the formation of a Third Front in Jammu and Kashmir, which would be led by Sajjad Lone. Besides the support of some PDP leaders, we are in touch with some Congress leaders as well," he said.

However, the trouble for the NC-PDP-Congress alliance in Jammu and Kashmir is that there are a number of legislators in the PDP who are riled up with the party and have even fielded candidates for the civic polls in alliance with the People's Conference. PDP's Gulmarg MLA, Mohammad Abbas Wani, said Beigh's statement points "towards the muck in the PDP, which has promoted favouritism". "We are in support of the Third Front to form the government in the state," he said.

Lone lauded PDP rebel leader and MLC Yasir Reshi on Twitter as two independent candidates, whom he had backed in the civic polls, became the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Sumbal Municipal Committee in Bandipora.

PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had decided that the party would boycott the urban local body elections in protest against the alleged efforts by the Centre to revoke Article 35A of the Constitution, which bars outsiders from owning propertiy in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Updated Date: Nov 21, 2018 19:19:41 IST

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