Azad Floats 'grand Alliance' Idea, Finds Takers

26 December 2014
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: With political crisis looming over Jammu and Kashmir after the election result threw up a fractured mandate, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister GhulamNabi Azad Friday floated the idea of a 'grand alliance' between Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference and his party, to form the next government in the State. While Azad's proposal found takers in National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party-which emerged as single-largest-reacted cautiously. 'We can have Mufti (Muhammad Sayeed) Sahab as the Chief Minister and the government will consist of PDP, NC and Congress,' Azad told Greater Kashmir over phone from New Delhi. Azad, a key strategist in Congress, said the combination would be a 'win-win situation.' 'Both National Conference and Congress have assured unconditional support to the Peoples Democratic Party without any interferences. With the support from independents and others we will have more than 3-4 majority,' he said. The poll results announced few days aback saw PDP emerging as single largest with 28 seats-16 short of majority in the 87 member state Assembly-followed by BJP with 25 seats. The National Conference and Congress which ruled the state for the past six years, bagged 15 and 12 seats respectively. Azad said the PDP-NC-Congress combination would be 'the best' for the state as it would not only give a stable government but 'most importantly' represent all regions of J&K. 'There can be no more homogenous combination than this as all the three parties are secular in nature. This political combination will have faces from mainland Jammu, Leh and Kargil in Ladakh, PirPanjal and Chenab Valley and Kashmir,' he said. Azad cautioned if PDP or NC choose to go with the BhartiyaJanta Party, the government will be 'most heterogeneous and one doesn't know what will be the consequences.' He blamed BJP for 'going whole hog and pressuring' the regional parties to form the next government. 'In a sensitive state like J&K the party (BJP) should be generous enough and understand that Kashmir has rejected them,' Azad said. Azad's views were echoed by senior National Conference leader Muhammad Shafi who won the Assembly elections from Uri constituency of Baramulla. 'Mass majority of people will accept this alliance and it will be a very viable proposition,' Shafi told Greater Kashmir. He said the proposed combination would be the 'best possible alliance' and give representation to all the three regions of the state. The PDP which is exploring option to form the government has kept all its cards close to its chest. The party's top brass has been holding consultations at the residence of the PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed here to explore the 'best option' for government formation. On the day the election results were announced, the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti told media that her party would explore 'all options to choose the best possible one.' Same day, the outgoing Chief Minister and National Conference working President, Omar Abdullah hinted at extending support to the PDP, saying the onus was on PDP to approach him. While the National Conference on Thursday reiterated its support to PDP in government formation, the latter hasn't rejected it yet. Asked to respond to Azad's proposal for 'grand alliance', a senior PDP leader said: 'The question is how to accommodate Jammu in this proposition. The question is not of BJP which has won 25 seats but the mandate that the Jammu has come up with.' He termed the fractured mandate as a 'complex problem' for his party. 'Before moving ahead on government formation, we want to have more deliberations,' he said. Sources said there was pressure building up within PDP not to ally with BJP. 'A section of leaders is arguing that Kashmir has out-rightly voted against BJP and any attempt to ally with the party (BJP) will hand over an edge to our rivals,' they said. Congress senior leader and In-Charge JK Affairs AmbikaSoni said the hung verdict that has come to fore post-poll results in J&K doesn't give BJP an 'exclusive right' to form the government. To a question that his party leader Azad has put forth a proposal about grand alliance, she said: 'Azad sahab is from the state and he knows the state well. We are for a secular alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.' The BJP, which swept the polls in Jammu and saw party winning 25 seats there-for the first time in its electoral history in J&K-is reportedly negotiating the government formation with different political parties in the state. On Thursday, the BJP's central leadership sent one of its senior leaders ArunJaitely to the state to get the feedback from its party MLAs. BJP general Secretary Ram Madhav also arrived here Thursday to hold consultations with leaders of some political parties to see a breakthrough in the impasse.