A day after the fractured mandate in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, the three major political players in the state are scrambling to form a cohesive power equation for the long run, balancing ideologies with realpolitik. The People’s Democratic Party, which has the single largest tally with 28 seats, is looking to partner either the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress to take it past the majority figure in the 87-member assembly.
Hectic negotiations and awkward embraces are expected before there is clarity on the next government formation in the militancy-hit state.
The situation is more stable in Jharkhand, with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance coalition winning a majority. The BJP won 37 seats, and together with alliance partner All Jharkhand Students' Union, has 43 seats in the 81-member assembly.
Jammu & Kashmir Alliance
All eyes are on the PDP in Jammu & Kashmir as party leaders decide their allies for the next state government. PDP has been cautious about deciding which way it will go. Though its major choices are to go with either the BJP or Congress, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has said that "it will take time to form a government to provide good governance."
"We will not cobble together a government by hook or crook. It will take time to explore possibilities and formation of government to meet the people's expectations and good governance. It is difficult to say when it will materialise," PDP President Mehbooba Mufti told journalists on Tuesday.
PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhter has said that the party was caught between "the devil and the deep sea," referring to the lack of easy choices for the regional party. “All the alliances that are available put one in a Catch-22 situation,” he told The Hindu.
If PDP goes with BJP, it will have ideological tussles as the parties have widely differing views on several issues—the Article 370 being a contentious one. Akhtar told TOI: "We're conscious of difficulties in going with BJP. We're in a dilemma that'll be resolved after PDP's political affairs committee meets."
Meanwhile, BJP, too, has acknowledged that it has "a problem" in J&K. The Hindu quoted a senior BJP functionary in New Delhi who said: “Allying with either the PDP or the National Conference is the first option. The second option is to sit in the Opposition. Either way, we will have a problem.” According to the report, a BJP Parliamentary board meeting on Wednesday would assess the situation, "but the party would not make the first move."
The other options for alliances are with bitter rival Omar Abdullah's National Conference, which has won 15 seats in J&K, and the Congress, which bagged 12 seats. For both options, PDP will have to seek additional support from independents. While nobody in the valley believes the Abdullahs and Muftis, who have been Kashmir's two rival political families for decades, can come together to govern the state, Omar Abdullah said in an interview on Tuesday that if PDP leaders make the first call, the National Conference won't be averse to discussions.
Jharkhand's Next Chief Minister
In Jharkhand, BJP's ally, the All Jharkhand Students' Union has won six seats, which means together the two parties have a majority in the 81-member assembly. While it isn't clear yet who will be made the next state chief minister, Raghubar Das' name has cropped up. Das won the Jamshedpur East seat on Tuesday with a thumping majority. If Das is made CM, he will be the first non-tribal head of the state where almost a third of its population is tribal.
The Times Of India had earlier quoted party sources saying that if BJP gets a hard-earned simple majority in the state, "a good crisis manager would be appointed to ensure smooth functioning of the government."
With four former Jharkhand chief ministers from BJP—including outgoing chief minister Hemant Soren—having lost seats in the state, it is unclear who will be named the next CM. BJP's biggest face Arjun Munda lost his Kharsawan seat, forcing the party to look at other options to head the state government.
Speculations are rife at the moment on who will be the next CM of Jharkhand, and several names are doing the rounds. We'll have to wait and watch.
(with inputs from agencies)