The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday came close to the majority mark in Jharkhand, where it has said it would ally with the All Jharkhand Students Union to form a government, and became the second largest party in Jammu and Kashmir with 25 seats. The BJP fell badly short of the 44 seats needed in the 87-member J&K Assembly to form a government and was unable to win a single seat in the Valley (all but one of its candidates lost their deposits in Srinagar). But it achieved the distinction of being the only national party to have won more than 20 seats in the Assembly.
The party’s parliamentary board will meet on Wednesday to take a view on its alliance partner in J&K and finalise the name of its chief ministerial candidate in Jharkhand. In a first, despite a 30 per cent tribal population, the eastern state could get a non-tribal chief minister. The name doing the rounds is Raghubar Das, vice-president of the state unit from Singhbhum, who has won the Jamshedpur East seat. Das, who migrated to Jharkhand, is from the Other Backward Classes.
In J&K, which gave no party enough seats to form a government on its own, the ball was in the court of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that won the most number of seats and is likely to stake claim to form a government. However, it wasn’t clear whether it will ally with the Congress (against which it had campaigned using bitter invective) or the BJP. “The trends are showing that we will not be forming a government on our own. It is a difficult situation for us,” said PDP chief spokesperson Naeem Akhter. On whether it could partner the Congress, Akhter evaded a direct reply but said that the vote was against the national party. Though the PDP spokesman noted out there were ideological differences with the BJP, he refused to comment on a possible alliance with the party.
“It will be easier to come together with the Congress than the BJP to form a government in Jammu and Kashmir,” said senior PDP leader and member of Parliament Muzaffar Hussain Baig.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti made it clear that her party would take time in deciding its ally.”We are not in a hurry to cobble together numbers. Will explore possibilities to give a credible government,” said Mufti.
Astonishingly, the National Conference (NC) said it would be ready to support the PDP. On a possible alliance with the BJP, the NC leader and outgoing chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said: “Ninety-nine per cent ‘no’, but there is a crack. If Mufti Mohammad Sayeed calls me to form government, I will consider it. But as of now, there has been no communication from the PDP. With 17 MLAs, the NC remains a key player. We are not calling Amit Shah either, but if the phone rings, it rings.” However, these statements seemed rhetorical rather than serious political moves.
The BJP might have won the Assembly election battle but it had to give in to the Opposition’s ire as the two Houses of Parliament adjourned sine die after repeated disruptions. The otherwise productive winter session of Parliament, thus, ended on Tuesday without passing either the coal mines Bill or the insurance Bill – which are now tipped to be rolled out through executive order. Despite being crushed in the Assembly polls, the Congress said it would continue to oppose arbitrary parliamentary action by the BJP.