Omar Abdullah has downrightly denied that National Conference (NC) is holding talks with the BJP on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, even as BJP began discussions with his arch rival PDP on Thursday night.
"So many stories doing the rounds about a BJP NC deal. Let me say this as strongly as possible - THERE IS NO DEAL NOR ANY DISCUSSION going on (sic)," Mr Abdullah tweeted late on Thursday, amid conjecture that NC could consider supporting a government led by the BJP, which delivered its most emphatic performance in the state to win 25 seats, but was way short of the majority mark at 44.
NC won 15 seats and says the support of two more can theoretically help the BJP form the government. PDP, which with 28 seats is the largest party in the state, is in the same boat as far as government formation in J&K is concerned.
Arun Jaitley, who held discussions with BJP's newly elected legislators in Jammu, said on Thursday, "The people's mandate shows that the BJP must be a part of the government, reports NDTV.
Talks were also held between BJP leader Ram Madhav and senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig. Even though it was the first direct contact between the two parties, it was not clear whether Baig, who favours an alliance with the BJP, had been mandated by his party chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to initiate talks.
There is apparently a strong opposition to such an alliance within the PDP; its views on several key issues are exactly opposite to those of BJP's and a tie-up could be seen as a betrayal by supporters - the PDP called the shots in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, while the BJP won all its seats in the Hindu-majority Jammu region.
Aga Rohullah, an NC leader, said his party must not ally with the BJP for the same reason. "People voted in large numbers to keep the BJP at bay. We can't give backdoor entry to the BJP to form the government. The last thing the people want is a BJP chief minister," Mr Rohullah said.