Hung House

23 December 2014
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: The election results Tuesday threw up a hung House in Jammu and Kashmir with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emerging as single-largest, asserting that it is 'exploring possibilities' to form the government. The PDP, which began its electoral journey in the state in 2002, won 28 seats in the 87-member House today while BJP, which was claiming to get 44-plus seats, could pull only 25 seats as it emerged the second largest party. The National Conference, which dominated State's political landscape for most part of the past seven decades and was fighting one of the toughest battles in its electoral history, bagged 15 seats, just little ahead of Congress which secured 12 Assembly segments. PDP's Rise And Worry: In its 12-year journey after it fought the first assembly election in 2002, the PDP-which drew its power from South Kashmir in the beginning-Tuesday made inroads into Srinagar which was considered to be a stronghold of the National Conference. The PDP won five of the eight seats from the city while holding on to south, winning 11 seats from there-one seat less than the 2008 assembly polls. As the election results became clear by afternoon, the highlights of PDP's victory were win of its Chief Ministerial candidate, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, from Islamabad (Anantnag) segment while the party breached the bastion of National Conference in Charar-i-Sharief by defeating six-time MLA and NC veteran Abdur Rahim Rather. However, the loss of four seats by the party in its bastion South Kashmir came as a worry for the PDP which was claiming to form the government on its own. The party lost HomeShalibugh, Devsar, Shangus and Pahalgam from south Kashmir-the seats bagged by PDP in 2008-but got Kokernag, Dooru and Noorabad into its kitty. But Srinagar gave it a reason to smile. Since 2002 the party had drawn a blank in two Assembly elections from here, though it had won Batmaloo in a bi-election in 2004. In north Kashmir, the party bagged seven seats, adding two new seats to its tally as compared to the 2008 elections while in central Kashmir's Budgam district it bagged two seats. In Jammu's Muslim belts of Chenab Valley and Pirpanjal range, the party won three seats. 'We are thankful to people who voted us as the single largest party in the state,' PDP President Mehbooba Mufti told a press conference at her residence here. She said the mandate was not decisive and 'as per our expectations.' 'It didn't come out as we had expected,' she said. To a question whether the party was exploring options for government formation, Mehbooba said: 'We are not here to cobble up a government but looking for a government based on our agenda of good governance.' She said her party would explore 'best possible option' to form the government. 'We are not in a hurry. We will take time to explore options and form the government which will be able to deliver,' she said. A senior PDP leader expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict, saying the party was 'expecting to form the government on its own'. 'We will revisit our strategy since the party is short of required numbers.' The PDP might call the meeting of its top decision making body-Political Affairs Committee-to explore the option for government formation. 'No one is untouchable in politics,' responded another PDP leader to a question whether PDP could ally with BJP to form the government. 'We will debate and discuss all possibilities. Since BJP has won all its seats (25) from Jammu region, the new formulation can't keep Jammu out of government,' he said, hinting at a possible alliance with the BJP. BJP DRAWS BLANK FROM KASHMR: Falling way short of its claimed 'Mission 44 plus', the BharatiyaJanta Party won all of its 25 seats from the Jammu region while it failed to open its account in Kashmir despite an all-out election campaign launched by it to make inroads into Valley. The party which had launched an aggressive campaign outside Kashmir to mobilize migrant Kashmiri Pandit voters, hoping they would vote for it, was never in race on any seat in Kashmir. However it has the best ever chances to form a government in the state, possibly with PDP or National Conference. 'Any decision on government formation will be taken by the party high command,' said a state BJP leader. THE FALL OF NATIONAL CONFERENCE The National Conference, J&K's oldest party, today plummeted to its worst-ever performance in state elections, winning 15 seats in 87-member Assembly as it stood at 3rd position. The numbers secured by the National Conference were 13 seats short of its performance in 2008 elections. The loss of five seats in Srinagar dealt a blow to the party. Omar himself won the Beerwah seat by a thin margin of 910 votes while he lost from Sonwar to PDP's Muhammad Ashraf Mir. 'It was always touch and go in Sonwar which has been represented by the NC for three consecutive terms now,' Omar told a New Delhi based news channel. 'In Beerwah the results were too close than what I had expected.' Omar, who was at his residence till this afternoon, said it was 'unlikely' that he would join hands with the BJP for any alliance or any kind of outside support to right-wing party. 'There are 99 per cent chances of having no alliance with the BJP but I should be given one percent margin to give sleepless nights to others,' he said. Soon the results were out for Beerwah, he left his residence to visit the constituency. 'The onus lies on the PDP and other parties to explore the possibilities of government formation,' he said. One of the major setbacks the National Conference faced was the loss of the party veteran Abdur Rahim Rather from Charar-i-Sharief constituency. Rather who continuously represented the constituency six times in the past 37 years, lost to PDP's GhulamNabi Lone (Hanjura). 12 FOR CONGRESS: State Congress today got reduced to 12 seats compared to 17 in 2008. A senior Congress leader said the initiative has to be taken by the PDP, which has emerged as single largest party, for the government formation in the state. 'We can only hope that the PDP will take a decision that will be in the best interests of the State and its people,' he said. Asked whether Congress was ready to support the PDP in government formation, he said: 'let's not jump to the conclusion. Everything will be clear in the next two days.' PC'S BEST SHOW: Sajjad Lone-led Peoples Conference won two constituencies from north Kashmir's Kupwara district. Sajjad himself won the Handwara constituency while the party also bagged Kupwara seat. Both the seats were represented by National Conference.