PDP Plans AAP-like Kashmir Revelations On Power-sharing Pact

16 February 2015
The Hindustan Times
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

New Delhi: The PDP, in talks with the BJP for forming government in Jammu and Kashmir, plans to do an AAP by making public the terms of power-sharing agreement before sealing the alliance. The border state has been without an elected government for almost two months after December 23 result threw up a hung House, with none of the four main players crossing the majority mark of 44 in the 87-member assembly. 'If we reach there (power-sharing), we will definitely put the common minimum programme in public domain. Nothing will be hidden,' People's Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told HT. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which swept to power in Delhi recently, had sought people's view before accepting the Congress' support in December 2013. The government, however, lasted 49 days after the AAP opted out. The PDP has also demanded an assurance from the BJP that Article 370 that accords special status to J-K would not be touched to 'protect the state's political and demographic character'. Withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, that gives security forces powers to search and enter property is another sticking point. Along with construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and common civil code, abrogation of Article 370 is at the core of the BJP's agenda. But, in the run up to the last year's state elections, the party, mellowed its stand, suggesting a debate over the utility of Article 370. 'It is part of the Constitution. We don't want to add or subtract anything from it. Much of it (Article 370) has already been eroded. We only want to protect whatever is left of it,' a senior PDP strategist said. Party leaders maintain the PDP was taking a 'huge risk' by engaging in talks with the BJP. Voters in Kashmir had ignored separatists call for a boycott to vote in large numbers which was attributed to the anti-BJP sentiment in the Valley. 'Article 370 is non-negotiable for us. It is an existential issue for the people of J-K, the state and for us as a party. This needs to be understood,' another PDP leader said. Party leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media, also said talks and government formation would take some time. The PDP leadership is upset with the statements of some senior BJP leaders, including Nirmal Singh, who said AFSPA would be revoked only after the consent of security forces. 'AFSPA gives an impression that J-K continues to be a disturbed area when situation is absolutely normal. Why should you own up such an embarrassment internationally,' the PDP leader said. However, BJP sources said issues would be ironed out in the CMP. The party had not even mentioned Article 370 in the vision document released ahead of the elections, the sources said. Governor's rule was imposed in the state on January 9 after parties failed to cobble the numbers for a government. The PDP has 28 MLAs, BJP 25, National Conference 15 and the Congress 12. The BJP and PDP have been in talks for more than a month now.