Track Two Dialogue With BJP On, Says PDP

24 January 2015
The Hindu
Zahid Rafiq

Jammu: For the first time since the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections threw up a divided mandate on December 23, Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said here on Friday that the party was in a Track-II conversation with the BJP for forming a government in the State. 'We are in Track-II negotiations with the BJP. We may differ in our vision and priorities, but an attempt is being made to find common ground so as to evolve a consensus on all issues to carry forward the peace process and the political and economic agenda,' he said. His comments came even as PDP leader Haseeb Drabu met Governor N.N. Vohra at the Raj Bhavan on Friday evening, informing him about the broad pattern of the parleys between the two parties. A spokesperson of the Governor said Dr. Drabu informed Mr. Vohra about 'the understandings arrived at with regard to the upcoming elections to the Rajya Sabha and the likely time frame now envisaged for further negotiations and conclusion of understandings.' The PDP re-elected Mehbooba Mufti its president on Saturday. After the election results were out, the PDP and the BJP have been in talks to arrive at a common minimum programme and find a language that does not digress from the Kashmir agenda of the BJP and the RSS, but does not make the PDP, which formerly positioned itself as a Muslim-centric party, seem like a turncoat. 'Our alliance with any political party will be based on principles and policies. I assure you and the people of Jammu and Kashmir that I will never sell my mandate and will not compromise on issues just for the sake of power,' Mr. Sayeed said. According to PDP sources, one of the problems with the talks has been that the BJP sent leaders from the RSS as mediators, alluding to Mr Ram Madhav who held talks with the PDP. Mr. Sayeed also reiterated that 'peace' was the pre-requisite for economic viability in the State, and said that dialogue (with Pakistan) was the only way to address the Kashmir issue. 'We do not want to dictate terms as it is for the Prime Minister to decide on foreign policy matters. However, it is also clear that any hostility between India and Pakistan has a direct impact on Jammu and Kashmir and its people. We want that peace should prevail on the borders and within in the State. We want to bridge the gap between the two neighbouring countries for ensuring peace in the region,' Mr. Sayeed said. 'The PDP will take up the challenge [of government formation] only if I feel that by entering into an alliance I will be in a position to connect with the people of all regions and work for the welfare of the entire State,' he added.