March 2016 News

PDP, BJP Face April 9 Deadline To Form Govt In J&K

13 March 2016
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: The window for PDP and BJP to sort out their differences and form a government in Jammu & Kashmir is shrinking rapidly as the state assembly, now in suspended animation, must meet by April 9 to avert its dissolution. Though the state came under governor's rule after PDP patriarch Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away in January, the relevant date for dissolution of the assembly is October 10, 2015 when it last met. In accordance with Article 53 of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, there cannot be an intervening gap of more than six months between two consecutive sessions and this sets a deadline for the political negotiations. Despite some overtures from Mehbooba Mufti, PDP leader and Mufti's daughter, there has been no breakthrough in talks with BJP as both sides seem to convey the impression that they are acting under pressure from their coalition partner. Sources close to Mehbooba said the leader was willing to form a government in keeping with Mufti's wishes and his desire to reduce differences between the Valley and Jammu, but there are other aspects such as the need to reassure Kashmiri sentiment on issues of identity that ought to be addressed. BJP leaders claim that Mehbooba has not plainly spelt out what she has in mind. They argue that the Mufti's pragmatic acknowledgement that a government without Jammu representation would not enjoy credibility should be recognised by his successor. But now, the window is closing unless both sides decide to climb down and reach an agreement as though governor's rule can be extended, the assembly would be dissolved in April and the only recourse would be elections, a prospect that both sides might want to avoid.

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