The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had no lack of suitors on Tuesday after emerging as the single-largest party in Jammu and Kashmir with both the BJP and Congress wooing it to form the next government.
The regional party that was founded in 1998 picked up 28 seats on the way to registering its best performance in India’s only Muslim-majority state.
But with the tally way short of the halfway mark in the 87-member assembly, the PDP said it would need time to ensure the formation of a stable government. “We will not cobble numbers just for the heck of arithmetic but explore possibilities where the aspirations of people are taken into consideration, good governance delivered, and also take political process (on Kashmir) forward,” party president Mehbooba Mufti said.
Several factors pushed up the PDP’s numbers, said analysts, including a disappointing performance by the NC-Congress government, violent street uprisings in 2009-10, rampant corruption and the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
The BJP’s forays into the Kashmir valley turned into a major electoral issue for the PDP. The party’s entire campaign focused on stopping the BJP from winning seats in the Valley where the national party not only blunted the separatists’ boycott call but also spurred a spike in voter numbers.
Despite this, analysts said a post-poll alliance between the two parties was likely as the PDP would want amicable ties with the Centre. “I think we have to have Jammu aspirations onboard if we form the government. Our options for coalition is open,” said PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar.
The party is also exploring the possibility of a tie-up up with the Congress and some independents, as a coalition with the BJP is expected to be rocky in the long run given their conflicting stands on contentious issues like Article 370, uniform civil code and conversion, sources said.
“We need time to deliberate and explore possibilities. We want a government with credibility. It will take time,” said Mufti, indicating that the party would wait for the suitors to make the first offer.