J-K: Mufti Sayeed touted as next CM, PDP to choose ally carefully
The only thing Tuesday's poll results in Jammu and Kashmir revealed so far is that the state is headed towards a People's Democratic party-led government with party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayed as the new chief minister.
While the assembly is most likely to be hung and no party attaining the magic figure of 44 out of 87 seats, the PDP emerged as the largest party with around 30 seats.
The question, however, now arises as to who will the PDP choose as its ruling partner.
The PDP will garner comfortable numbers for government formation with either party - with the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) 25 the figure at 55 may be way beyond the majority and the party will get around 46 if Congress manages to get 16 seats as the current trends show.
Irrespective of numbers and ideological comfort, it might be a good option for the PDP to go with with the BJP because as a regional party it would like to form a government with the party ruling at the Centre. In last 12 years, it was a regional party (either PDP or National Conference) which allied with Congress, which was ruling at the Centre.
Although Mufti Sayeed has said in the past that Congress was a national ally, analysts feel PDP would not want a antagonised central government. Even before the results were out PDP spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar said "engagement with BJP is inevitable'' keeping the options open for an alliance with the saffron party.
The state BJP has also showed positive inclination saying "no party was untouchable''.
"Any party which wants to come with us is welcome, if they have Kashmir's development at their heart,'' said Altaf Thakur, BJP's media advisor in Kashmir.
However, owing to the ideological differences with the right wing BJP over important issues like larger autonomy or self-rule and Article 370, Congress might be an option as a large section in the party does not want to compromise on its ideology.
"Going with Congress will put off BJP, so can the PDP be friendly with the Centre despite of going with Congress or will the party high command want a government which can deliver with the BJP on board needs to be seen,'' said a party insider.
Another factor which might tilt the balance towards the Congress is the fact that the vote in Kashmir was to a large extent vote against the BJP.
Jammu and Kashmir poll results among other things have shown that there was no regional divide in Jammu and Kashmir regions as it was reflected today. While the Jammu region has chosen BJP, Kashmir has voted for PDP and NC.
Electoral results have shown a huge divide between the regions due to polarisation in the wake of extensive BJP campaign for its Mission 44+.
As the PDP and Congress numbers add up, it will be very difficult for PDP to sell an alliance with BJP to the people who voted for it in large numbers.
Congress, on the other hand, has said it is ready to consider being part of the government, if PDP chooses to ally with it.
"BJP has polarised the state in such a manner that the secular force of the state that is Congress has been weakened. But as far as forming the government is concerned, we will consider if PDP invites us,'' said JKPCC president Saifuddin Soz.