How Congress, NC and PDP have checkmated the BJP in J&K

Shuja-ul-HaqNov 21, 2018 | 19:55

How Congress, NC and PDP have checkmated the BJP in J&K

Politics makes strange bedfellows. This saying came true in the state of J&K with arch rivals National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agreeing to be part of a bigger alliance with the Congress, on Wednesday (November 21).

With senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari’s announcement of “Yes, we have come together”, the realisation started sinking in. Till then, the reports seemed like just another rumour.


PDP leader Altaf Bukhari has confirmed the coming together of the PDP, NC and Congress. (Source: Twitter)

The unexpected political development has taken many people by surprise. Insiders say the reason of this getting-together is clearly to keep the BJP away from the state. And the move certainly seems to have outsmarted the BJP — and its ally Sajjad Lone.

Though the contours of the alliance are still sketchy, sources say it is the PDP and the Congress who are leading the talks and the NC has agreed to support them.

NC insiders suggest the party would like to provide external support to the government, if it is formed.

NC vice-president Omar Abdullah tweeted:

Sources say the PDP’s Altaf Bukari has been the centre of a series of parleys held over the issue in the past few weeks. Political leaders from various parties have attended meetings at Bukhari’s Srinagar residence during this time.

Bukhari, as per sources, has had many meetings with the Pradesh Congress chief GA Mir as well. These efforts were being made in the wake of the emergence of a third front, led by Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone, and supported by the BJP.


Sources close to Bukhari said these talks were, however, happening at a very slow pace and away from the media glare until November 20. The trigger was a statement by senior leader of the PDP, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who announced his willingness to enter a third front led by Sajjad Lone. Baig’s statement intensified the whole process and the parties got serious about coming together.

After Baig’s press conference, a meeting took place on Wednesday evening at Bukhari’s Srinagar residence. Senior Congress leaders participated in the meeting. As per sources present at the meeting, these parties agreed to defend the special status of J&K, provided under Article 35A of the Constitution, and keep the BJP away from the state.

The Congress party also got a green signal from its high command to go ahead with this.

Article 35A, which grants special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir residents, has been challenged in the Supreme Court, where the case is listed for hearing in January 2019.

In the wake of the fresh controversy surrounding Article 35A, the NC and PDP boycotted the civic elections, citing the noncommittal stance of the government of India in defending the special status.


The sudden development has taken the other side also by surprise.

Sources say Sajjad Lone, along with a rebel PDP leader, was reportedly on a tour of London and is returning to India after hearing this news.

Taken by surprise? Sajjad Lone was in talks with the BJP to form a government in J&K. (Source: India Today)

BJP leaders in the state seemed to be in a huddle.

Senior leader of the BJP and former deputy CM Kavinder Gupta issued a statement which, to a lot of people, seemed like a grapes-are-sour comment.

“Pakistan is behind the coming together of these people,” he said in Jammu, soon after the news of the alliance became public.

The move is nothing less than a political checkmate for the BJP and its ally Sajjad Lone. Insiders say that after the municipal and panchayat poll boycott by NC and PDP, Sajjad Lone and the BJP were hoping to get another chance to try their hands at putting together a group of MLAs to stake claim to the government. 

Lone’s party, People’s Conference, was given the task of bringing together PDP rebels and also to woo more MLAs in order to reach the magic figure of 44 in the Assembly. All parties other than the BJP and PC were seeking dissolution of the Assembly.

Jammu and Kashmir is under Governor’s Rule since June this year, after the breakdown of the PDP-BJP alliance.

Governor Satya Pal Malik is in charge. If the parties end up formalising their arrangement, they will have to go to him and stake their claim.

It will be interesting to see how the Governor reacts to such a proposal.

Last updated: November 22, 2018 | 13:07
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