Ram Madhav, who arrived in the afternoon, told reporters: "The BJP has the mandate to lead the government in Jammu and Kashmir. I am here to explore the options."

He added that he was meeting representatives from different parties but did not provide details.

"We are open to discussions, and meetings can be had with the prime minister also in this regard," he added, two days after the BJP emerged as the second largest group in a hung 87-member Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

The Peoples Democratic Party has 28 seats, the National Conference 15, the Congress 12 and the Bharatiya Janata Party 25 seats. BJP sources said that talks between the National Conference and the Bharatiya Janata Party had hit a major roadblock because of the BJP's insistence on having a Hindu chief minister.

The National Conference, the sources said, was ready to support and even join a BJP-led coalition on the condition that the BJP gives up its demand for a Hindu chief minister.

At the same time, the PDP, while keeping its options open vis-a-vis the BJP, had sent feelers to Sajad Lone that he could be a deputy chief minister if he supported a PDP-Congress coalition, the sources said.

Sajad Lone's People's Conference has won two seats. Another independent, Hakim Yaseen, has denied media reports that he had announced support for a BJP-led government.

Seven independents have also been elected to the assembly. A group of parties will need the support of 44 members to form a government.

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