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Clutching at straws? BJP hopes Mehbooba will keep the alliance

Panini Anand | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:25 IST

The political logjam in Jammu and Kashmir is deepening, with the PDP and the BJP playing cat and mouse.

But even as the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is dithering over forming a new government with the BJP, the saffron party is hopeful that the alliance would endure.

A senior BJP leader told Catch, "The delay is unnecessary but there has been no loss so far. Everything will be alright, and the government in the state will continue with the same alliance."

Also read - Mehbooba plays hardball. Why it suits her to break with BJP

He said the party is "keeping a close eye on the developments", but insisted that it's just a matter of time before the logjam is resolved.

"Mehbooba is putting on airs. The PDP doesn't have many options. We hope they understand it sooner," the leader said.

Another leader hinted the BJP may explore "other options" if Mehbooba keeps dragging its feet. "Of course, we want this government to run. But there are other options open as well. No one is untouchable."

We want this government to run. But we have other options. No one is untouchable: BJP leader

Indeed, after the results of the election were declared, National Conference chief Omar Abdullah had met BJP leaders Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and Ram Madhav in late December 2014 to explore the possibility of an alliance.

The BJP leaders Catch spoke with indicated they might reconsider such an alliance.

In a political vacuum

The current political crisis began after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away on 7 January. His daughter Mehbooba, always the heir apparent, was expected to succeed him as the chief minister but she refused to do so until after the 7-day mourning period was over. This despite the ally BJP agreeing to support her.

Now, many see Mehbooba's refusal to take oath until after the mourning period as just an excuse to rethink the alliance with the BJP.

Also read - Personal & political: why is Mehbooba Mufti giving the BJP a hard time?

It's no secret that the PDP's popularity, and indeed credibility, in the valley has gone down for allying with the BJP. And some leaders in the party see this as an opportunity to make a course correction.

Indeed, senior PDP leaders have indicated as much by saying they are "examining and reviewing the Agenda of Alliance on the ground".

BJP leader: everything will be alright. The government in J&K will continue with the same alliance

While they conduct the "review", everybody is left guessing about the fate of the alliance.

Mehbooba has held a series of meetings with senior party colleagues, but there's still no clarity about her intention, least of all to the BJP.

Also read - By the hard way: how Mehbooba Mufti rose to be J&K's CM-in-waiting

A senior BJP leader said, "Let them decide about things at their level. We would be able to comment only after getting a response from the PDP. It is not appropriate to comment about anything right now."

Clearly, the BJP is desperate to hold on to power in Jammu & Kashmir. But the question is does the PDP - and, indeed, the saffron party's potential new ally, the National Conference - share its enthusiasm?

Hopefully, we won't have to wait for long to know.

More in Catch - R.I.P #MuftiSayeed. What will the transfer to Mehbooba mean for J&K

Mehbooba dithers over oath-taking, top leaders' fate hangs in balance

Post Mufti, PDP-BJP coalition is a sinking ship. Can Mehbooba rescue it?

First published: 17 January 2016, 6:25 IST
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.