BJP Tries to Finalise Deal With PDP in Kashmir

29_thsri_pdp_2261198eNEW DELHI : As the BJP tries to finalise a deal on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir with the People’s Democratic Party or PDP, it has some pressure at home.
The party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS does not want the BJP to be seen to make any compromise on its stand on key issues like Article 370 or the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), sources said.
A senior RSS leader, Indresh Kumar, said today, “Fanaticism and separatism are not healthy for the country. What has a separate Constitution and flag given to the people of J&K? When asked, the people of J&K say no other state has a separate flag but they are progressing, we aren’t.”
He also controversially said, “The people of Jammu and Kashmir should look towards Delhi and not Islamabad… People have voted for ballot and Delhi, both parties will respect this in their agreement.”
Within an hour, former RSS leader and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who is also the key negotiator with PDP, said, “responsible people” in the RSS have been kept in the loop about the talks. “If some people are making comments, it means they are not in the know.”
There is no time frame for the talks, “but I assure you, will give you good news soon,” he added.While the BJP and the PDP have been negotiating for weeks to work out a common minimum programme or CMP on basis of which they can govern Jammu and Kashmir together, it is their opposite stands on key issues that have created hurdles.
The latest is the PDP’s demand for a written assurance that “the present constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir will be maintained.”
The PDP, which swept the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, has been firmly opposed to any attempt to weaken Article 370, which is seen as vital for the autonomy of the state by residents. It makes the consent of the state government necessary for laws except those related to defence or national security.
In the past, BJP leaders have suggested that the need for Article 370 should be debated because it promotes separatism.Also, the PDP has reportedly sought a phased withdrawal of AFPSA – which gives the army the authority to make arrests without warrants – from Kashmir and has suggested that the mechanism could be reinstated if necessary.
While the BJP has seemed to nuance its stand recently, RSS sources point out that its stand on Article 370 and AFSPA has been consistent.Prime Minster Narendra Modi will take a final call on the contours of the CMP. The RSS, said sources, is waiting to see the fine print of the CMP before it takes a formal stand.
In assembly elections held nearly two months ago, J&K delivered a hung verdict – the PDP got the maximum seats, the BJP was close behind winning its best-ever result in India’s only Muslim-majority state; its gains were made entirely in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

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