Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Congress in talks to form govt in J&K?

New Delhi: Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and the Congress may join hands to form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, according to sources. They added that talks between the three parties are “at an advanced stage”, in order to hinder the BJP’s to poach legislators from Mehbooba Mufti’s party and prop up a government headed by Sajjad Lone’s People Conference.

The Congress leadership has reportedly approved a grand alliance with Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Omar Abdullah’s National Conference to checkmate the BJP in the state where six-month central rule ends next month. An announcement regarding the same is expected on Wednesday or Thursday, the sources claimed.

The coalition talks hold the potential to trigger far-reaching realignment of political forces in Jammu and Kashmir and envisages an alliance between PDP and Congress, which have been partners in a government between 2002 and 2007, backed from outside by the National Conference, PTI reported.

The PDP has 28 MLAs in the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir assembly. It is followed by NC with 15 and Congress with 12 which will take them well ahead of the majority mark of 44. The National Conference, sources said, have made it clear that they were not interested in joining a coalition government but would not be averse to giving outside support to a PDP-Congress coalition.

If such an arrangement comes about, Mehbooba Mufti is unlikely to be the chief minister but the government may be headed by a senior PDP leader.

The BJP dismissed the reported move as a desperate attempt by the parties to keep their flock together. “Their attempts to come together will not succeed,” said a BJP leader.

The state is currently under governor’s rule which cannot be extended after it completes its six-month period on December 19. It is proposed to impose President’s rule thereafter but the 87-member assembly is not being dissolved, according to Governor Satyapal Mallik.

The government headed by the Peoples Democratic Party’s Mehbooba Mufti fell when its partner BJP pulled out of the ruling coalition on June 16. After the pull-out, Lone is understood to have been approaching disgruntled PDP leaders for forming an alliance with the BJP, the sources said.

Political circles have been agog with speculation that behind the scene efforts were underway to prop up a government headed by Sajjad Lone’s People Conference, which has only two MLAs but which would be banking on support by the 25 MLAs of BJP.