New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Sunday said they were hopeful that the ruling alliance in Jammu and Kashmir will eventually be revived, three days after talks between Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and BJP president Amit Shah failed to break the deadlock over government formation.

Senior BJP leaders at the party’s two-day national executive meeting in Delhi on Sunday reiterated their commitment to the agenda of alliance or common minimum programme between the two parties.

“We support the agenda of alliance and we are committed for it," finance minister Arun Jaitley told reporters.

Mufti met Shah in Delhi last week but the two sides failed to reach a consensus on Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP has maintained that there will be no more concessions for the PDP leadership and that the government-formation process should continue on the basis of the earlier understanding reached between the two sides.

The political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir began with the death of Mehbooba Mufti’s father and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on 7 January. Even though several rounds of discussions between BJP and PDP leadership have taken place for more than two months, they have not been able to achieve a breakthrough in deciding a successor government.

The two parties differ significantly on some important issues in the sensitive and terrorism-hit border state.

Mehbooba Mufti wants the BJP leadership to take “confidence building measures" before government formation. But BJP leaders say the party leadership has decided to reject PDP demands for talks with Kashmiri separatists; repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some districts, and for the Army to vacate land occupied by them.

“Instead of focussing on government formation, development of the state or job creation, Mehbooba Mufti is raising political issues. We hope that Mehbooba Mufti would listen to the demands of a section of her own party members who want that government-formation process should take place," said a senior BJP leader from Jammu and Kashmir, pointing out that there can be no compromise on the issue of internal security.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has also asked BJP leaders not to comment on issues related to the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted for the 2001 Parliament attack, or on the beef controversy.

Senior leaders of the PDP have demanded a time-bound implementation of the agenda of alliance. The PDP-BJP agenda of alliance states that the Union government has already cleared the setting up of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jammu and Kashmir. Also, the government will make efforts to develop two mega cities—greater Srinagar and greater Jammu—along with two satellite cities, New Srinagar and New Jammu.

The agenda of alliance also talks about steps to generate employment through development activities, aiming for 100% literacy and full coverage of primary healthcare.

“It is unfair to say that the government formation process has reached a standstill because of the PDP. The party has only demanded time bound implementation and completion of the agenda of alliance. There has not been a single additional demand from the PDP leadership. We only want time-bound implementation of the promises made by the Union government," said a senior PDP leader.

The PDP leader also said Mehbooba Mufti is expected to call a meeting of all 28 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) belonging to the party to brief them about her discussions with BJP leaders. A final decision on the alliance with the BJP will be taken after this meeting.

Political analysts feel that the tussle is more at the level of national politics than at that of the local leadership of the BJP and PDP.

“The local leaders and MLAs in both the parties want the government formation process to start; they want development work to continue. But it’s the leaders at the national level, both in BJP and PDP who are not able to give up their rigid stand," said Ellora Puri, a Jammu-based political analyst and political science professor at Jammu University.

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