Congress not out of the game in J&K, could emerge as PDP partner

Both PDP and Congress leaders didn't rule out the possibility of joining hands to form the next government.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Updated: December 23, 2014 3:01 pm
A Kashmiri supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shouts slogans during an election campaign rally in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Source: PTI) A Kashmiri supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shouts slogans during an election campaign rally in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Source: PTI)

With PDP emerging as the single-largest party in J&K and the National Conference and Congress – which are ruling the state in alliance but contested elections separately — not performing as badly as pollsters had predicted, it is unclear which group will form the next government in the state.

However, the chances of PDP and the Congress joining hands to form the government are quite high, with both parties indicating their willingness to come together. The BJP, which campaigned aggressively for a 44+ mandate in the 87-member Assembly, is likely to be the main opposition party.

Both PDP and Congress leaders didn’t rule out the possibility of joining hands to form the next government.

Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ghjulam Nabi Azad told reporters that the party was open to doing business with the PDP. Sources in both the parties said that informal talks were already on between the two former alliance partners.

Strong anti-incumbency against the Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress government, with charges of corruption and inefficiency being routinely levelled against the government, saw many leading lights of the coalition losing. The biggest and most shocking result was the defeat of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah from Sonawar by a whopping margin of 4800-plus votes. He was, however, leading in Beerwah by 100-odd votes against his Congress opponent. Omar had shifted from his current constituency Ganderbal just before the polls.

“Congratulations to Ashraf Mir for his victory in Sonawar. I wish him & the people all good luck for the next 6 years. He’s now my local MLA,” Omar tweeted just after the result for Sonawar was announced.

Among the ministers who lost at the hustings was PHE Minister Sham Lal Sharma, who had talked of the need for the Congress to project a Hindu from Jammu as the CM face. Other ministers who lost were Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Raman Bhalla Abdul Rehman Rather, Choudhry Mohd Ramzan and Surjit singh Slathia.

Sajjad Lone, who had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, giving rise to speculation that the BJP would join hands with him post-elections, won by 28,489 votes from Handwara.

While BJP won almost all of its seats from the Jammu province, its most prominent Kashmiri Muslim face Hina Bhat lost from Amirakadal constituency to Altaf Bukhari of the People’s Democratic Party.

NC provincial president Davinder Singh Rana won from the Nagrota Assembly seat defeating BJP’s Nand Kishore by margin of 4,048 votes. The BJP nominee is the younger brother of state BJP president and sitting Lok Sabha MP Jugal Kishore Sharma.

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