Two independent MLAs and the lone Leftist legislator in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday pledged to support a "secular government", giving fresh impetus to a possible Congress-backed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dispensation in the state.
The three legislators' commitment came two days after assembly election results threw up a fractured mandate in the state with the PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats while the BJP bagged 24 seats.
Barring the remote but not impossible scenario of the PDP aligning with the BJP, all other combinations would require support from some of the seven MLAs under the "others" category - four independents, two from People's Conference and the CPI-M lawmaker.
A party or combination needs 44 MLAs in the 87-member assembly to form the government.
"The three of us are in constant touch with each other and I can speak for all of us, we will support any government with secular credentials," said Yusuf Tarigami, the CPI-M leader from Kulgam.
Independent legislators - Abdul Rashid from Langate and Hakeen Yasin from Khan - confirmed that they would not go with the "other extreme", a euphemism for the BJP.
Hakim Yasin said "this is a secular state and only a secular government will work here". Both, however, added they were yet to be contacted by any party.
The Congress with 12 MLAs has already extended support to the PDP. If the PDP decides to align with the Congress, it would need the support of four from the seven "others".
On the other side of the spectrum, speculations swirled over the possibility of a BJP government backed by the National Conference (NC), which managed to win 15 seats.
Though there was no confirmation from both sides, NC working president Omar Abdullah is said to have met BJP leaders Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
An NC-BJP alliance will also require the support of four more members. The NC is claiming support of two independent MLAs from Zanskar and Udhampur.
Former separatist Sajad Lone with two MLAs has already pledged allegiance to the BJP.