The outcome of the Lok Sabha polls seems to have rocked the boat of the ruling National Conference-Congress alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.
Both parties drew a blank as the BJP and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) shared the six Lok Sabha seats. There are strong indications from chief minister Omar Abdullah and state Congress unit that NC and Congress might contest the assembly elections separately.
The divide between the coalition partners followed the slump in their vote share in the assembly segments. The NC, which represents 28 assembly seats, led in only six segments in the parliamentary polls. Similarly, the Congress was down from 17 to 10 seats.
The PDP won 21 seats in the 2008 assembly elections but led in 41 of the 87 assembly segments in the parliamentary polls. The BJP too led in 27 segments, up from 11 seats it won in 2008. While the PDP penetrated several assembly segments in Jammu’s Rajouri and Poonch, the BJP got to represent Ladakh district.
Speculation is rife about an alliance between the BJP and PDP.
However, their relations may sour as assembly polls draw near.
Both the PDP and BJP are riding high following their Lok Sabha performance but one cannot rule out the NC bouncing back. Omar and Farooq Abdullah are expected to woo angry cadre-based NC voters back. And despite their growing differences, the NC and Congress might go for a seat-sharing formula in order to check the rise of the PDP and BJP.
What could help the NC-Congress is the BJP’s stand on Article 370 and the polarisation of state on communal lines. Issues of development and Kashmir resolution are factors too.