Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) today returned a highly-fractured verdict in which the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP emerged the single largest party throwing up different possibilities in government formation while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stormed to power with an ally in Jharkhand giving it the first stable government.
With 28 seats, the triumphant PDP was in pole position to form the government but the party appeared to be keeping all options open like the BJP which has won 25 seats, all in the Jammu region, recording its best performance in the state.
The BJP’s success in Jharkhand comes on top of its victory in Maharashtra and Haryana in the recent assembly elections after the stupendous victory in Lok Sabha polls.
However, the BJP, for whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried out a high voltage campaign of ‘Mission 44+’ in the 87 member Jammu & Kashmir Assembly, failed to make any breakthrough in the Valley and Ladakh where it drew a blank in 50 seats.
In the Valley, the party suffered the ignominy of all but one of its 34 candidates losing their deposit. However, the party had more than doubled its seats from 11 in 2008 to 25 now while the PDP went up from 21 to 28.
The ruling National Conference suffered a defeat when it secured only 15 seats against 28 it had won in the last elections.
Chief Minister and NC President Omar Abdullah lost from Sonawar seat but managed to cling on to Beerwah with a slender margin of 1000 votes.
Its partner in the government Congress slipped to the fourth position getting 12 seats against 17 it had. Jammu Kashmir People Conference headed by former separatist Sajjad Lone won two seats while JKPDF (secular) and CPI-M won one seat each. Independents won in three seats.
As the picture became clear, BJP President Amit Shah said all three options were open for the party.
“The option of forming the government, the option of supporting a government and the option of participating in a government are all open,” Shah told reporters in Delhi.
To further questions, he said it is for the media to guess what the BJP would do. The party’s parliamentary board will meet tomorrow to discuss the situation.
In Srinagar, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti also kept everyone guessing.
“Our priority will not be to cobble together a government by hook or crook. It will take time to explore possibilities and formation of government to meet the people’s expectations and good governance. It is difficult to say when it will materialise,” she told reporters.
Outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also did not reveal his party’s plan except to claim that the National Conference cannot be ignored in the current situation. “The NC will be a serious player in whatever unveils in Jammu and Kashmir in the next few days,” he said.
He also hinted an intriguing possibility of supporting his bitter rival PDP in forming government. Introducing a new element in the scenario, Omar told PTI that it was for PDP to approach him. “I don’t rule out or rule in anything hereafter,” he said.
Interestingly, BJP has emerged the largest party in terms of vote share in Jammu and Kashmir securing 23 per cent votes despite the washout in terms of seats in the Valley and Ladakh.
The PDP came next with 22.7 per cent, National Conference got 20.8 per cent while Congress recorded 18 per cent of votes.
Jharkhand, a state that was formed 14 years ago, got its first stable government with BJP winning in 37 seats in the 81-member Assembly. It ally AJSU has won five seats giving the alliance 42 seats, one more than the required majority of 41.
The state, which has seen nine governments and three stints of President’s rule in 14 years, gave a decisive mandate this time riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development card.
BJP’s alliance partner AJSU suffered a jolt as its chief and former deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto lost from his home turf Silli, which he had represented for 15 years.
The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won 19 seats while its partner in government Congress won 6 seats. While BJP numbers more than doubled from 18 in 2009 to 37 this election, JMM’s numbers improved by one from 18 to 19 despite the loss of government. Chief Minister Hemant Soren won from Barhait by a good margin of 24,087 votes while lost in Dumka by a 5,262 votes. JVM(P) headed by former Chief Minister Babu Lal Marandi has won 8 seats compared to 11 seats it had won in the last elections. The BJP also led in the vote share recording 31.4 per cent votes while JMM secured 20.5 per cent. Congress got 10.3 per cent votes while the JVM (P) got 10 per cent.