NC swept out of power, hung Assembly in J-K
10 October 2002
The Indian Express
Srinagar: A stunned National Conference (NC) was on Thursday swept out of power in Jammu and Kashmir with the results of Assembly elections held under the shadow of the gun putting the Congress and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in a position to cobble a coalition government in a hung House. A badly wounded NC managed to emerge as the single largest party in the 87-member Assembly but the spectacular showing of the Congress and former Union Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's PDP ensured its humiliating defeat after long years in power. With 28 members, the NC does not appear to be in any position to form the next government. The Congress, riding on a wave in the Jammu region, which gave it 20 seats, and PDP, feasting on NC's losses in the Kashmir valley with 16 seats, emerged as the likely coalition partners but they will require at least eight MLAs from among the Independents and smaller parties to touch the magic majority figure of 44. In the disaster showing the NC not only lost but its Chief Ministerial candidate and party President Omar Abdullah, several ministers and the Deputy Speaker also failed to win. The outgoing Chief Minister and Omar's father Farooq Abdullah did not contest. The BJP put up a disastrous performance after its alliance with RSS- backed Jammu State Morcha (JSM) failed to click because of wrangling between the two parties. The saffron party, which had 8 seats in the outgoing House, could manage only one seat. However, among the small parties, the Panthers Party put up an impressive showing bagging four seats and could play a crucial role in government formation. In the wake of the elections throwing up a hung verdict, small parties and independents are expected to play a crucial role in government formation by the Congress-PDP combine. Conceding defeat, Abdullah senior, who returned from a trip to South Africa on Thursday, said he accepted the verdict and would be submitting his resignation on Friday. His son said the National Conference will not stake claim to form the government even if it emerged as the single largest party. Though brought together by the results, leaders of both the Congress and the PDP were still circumspect about forming a new government and who its Chief Minister would be.