5 Reasons Why The J&K Elections Are Important

23/12/2014 7:49 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
JAMMU, INDIA - DECEMBER 20: Voters standing in a queue to cast their vote at polling station during assembly elections, on December 20, 2014 in Jammu, India. In Jammu and Kashmir, voting is taking place for 20 assembly seats in border district of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri. 'As much as 29.75 per cent voting has been registered till noon in 20 segments of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts', an official spokesman said. (Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

As the counting begins for the Jammu & Kashmir election results on Tuesday, preliminary trends on how the new government will be formed is expected to be seen by 9 am IST or so. Exit polls have predicted a hung House in the militancy-hit state.

Here's a quick look at the importance of these elections and the potential implications of the result:

1. Historic voter turnout during polling: The five-phase, month-long polling saw a record 66 percent voter turnout. This is the highest it has been since 1987, despite boycott calls by separatists and militants. Polling was held for 87 seats, and more voters visited the polling booths and cast their votes since the onset of militancy in the state in 1989.

2. Bharatiya Janata Party's Muslim candidates: Not only has the party fielded a record 70 candidates in these elections, nearly 40 percent of these - 32 candidates - are Muslim. BJP is making its first serious bid to form its own government in J & K under its "Mission 44+" programme, alluding to the number of seats it requires to win more than 50 percent of the state assembly seats. The party had won 11 seats in the last assembly elections.

3. Multiple parties contesting: There are 821 candidates - including present chief minister Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and main opposition People's Democratic Party's chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed - contesting to form a government in the militancy-hit state. The other two parties include BJP, and Congress, which parted ways with NC just before these polls. In the Parliamentary polls held earlier this year, BJP won both seats from the Jammu region while PDP took all the three seats in Kashmir region.

4. Possible (and "impossible") alliances: Abdullah has ruled out a post-poll alliance with BJP, citing the right-wing party's stand of staying silent on article 370 of the Indian Constitution, that grants special autonomous status to J & K; Modi's silence on alleged forcible religious conversions to Hinduism, among other similar reasons. He has reportedly also said on Monday that there were no talks of alliance between the NC and other parties. PDP yet has to announce any plans for possible alliances.

5. Longer government rule for the state: J & K is the only Indian state assembly that has a six-year term for its government (all other states in India have governments that run for five years).

The results on Tuesday could set the tone for upcoming state elections in Delhi, which is expected to take place early 2015.

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