BJP divided over attending Omar’s all-party meet

Jammu, July 9 (Calcutta Tube) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is divided over attending an all-party meet convened by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah next week to discuss the deaths of civilians and clashes in the Kashmir valley.

With 11 legislators, it is the fourth largest party in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. Though it is critical of the National Conference-Congress coalition government’s handling of the situation, the BJP blames the Congress more than the chief minister.

‘We haven’t received a formal invite as yet,’ a source close to BJP legislature party leader Chaman Lal Gupta told IANS. ‘It will be decided only after that,’ he said.

The BJP in Jammu is divided into two factions, one being friendly with Abdullah and the other opposed to him, say political analysts, adding that this has been the trend since the party won an all-time high number of 11 seats in the assembly.

‘The fact is the party has no presence in Kashmir Valley and attending an all-party meet at this time when the whole thing has spun out of the chief minister’s control would be an exercise in futility,’ said a BJP leader.

He admitted that there was a faction within the party that was keen on supporting Abdullah.

Kashmir Valley has been on the boil, with at least 15 deaths of civilians during clashes with security forces, since June 11.

The BJP is also watching the moves of other political parties, particularly the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has 21 legislators. The PDP is the second largest party in the assembly after the National Conference, which has 28 MLAs. The Congress has only 17 members.

Indications are that the PDP would not be taking part in the all-party meet on Monday.

‘When we extended the hand of cooperation, the chief minister spurned it, now when the Kashmir is on edge and he has lost control of everything and matters have shifted into the hands of Delhi, he has called an all-party meet. It’s like calling a fire brigade after the whole house has burnt down,’ a senior PDP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

However, he said the final decision would be taken by the party’s political affairs committee.

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