The forthcoming election to four Rajya Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir may finally force an end to the suspense behind the future coalition that would subsequently form the government in J&K.
There are clear indications that PDP and BJP are close to reach an understanding but don’t want to rush into it. This election, however, may snatch the luxury of time from these parties, forcing them to take a decision.
Four seats — two each held by previous alliance partners the Congress and the National Conference — are going to polls on February 7, and parties have to file nominations by January 28.
The election is especially important for the BJP that wants to bolster its numbers in the Rajya Sabha. And as the verdict has been fractured, the only way for the BJP to win a realistically possible three seats, if not all four with the right arithmetic, is to tie up with the PDP. This would ensure that the Congress and the NC — even if they come together for this election — wouldn’t manage to win even one of the four seats. The election is also crucial for the Congress, who cannot afford to lose the seat of former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Though there are four seats, the Election Commission issues only three notifications, one of these for two seats. This means that for two seats where the contest is separate, the winning candidate needs 44 votes in an 87-member assembly. For the other two seats that go to polls under a joint notification and each legislator has to give two preferences, the winner needs 29 votes.
If the PDP and BJP fail to come up with an alliance, there is every likelihood that other possible combinations may ruin the party for especially the BJP. And as it is very clear that the PDP and the BJP are at an advanced stage of forming an alliance, this election may force them to iron out any hurdles and expedite the process. Sources reveal that the BJP doesn’t want any of the RS seats to go to its main opposition.
A senior PDP leader said the election is much more important for the BJP than for his party but agreed there is no room for delay an alliance now if the party wants to go with the BJP eventually for a coalition. “It will be stupid to fight separately if we are eventually going to go together in the state.” Sources reveal the PDP wanted to avoid taking a decision at this juncture and was in favour of postponing the RS polls.
Meanwhile, Ghulam Nabi Azad is also actively trying to stitch together a loose alliance between Congress, NC and legislators from smaller parties to secure at least one seat. If the PDP and the BJP fail to come together for this election, then governor’s rule will stretch a little longer.