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The ruling party and the party ruling it

With PDP and BJP being projected as two extremes, there are no clear answers for who represents J&K.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 29, 2008, 06.04 AM IST
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SRINAGAR: With PDP and BJP being projected as two extremes, there are no clear answers for who represents J&K, a state with three different agro-climatic and politico-religious regions. BJP has all its strength based in Jammu unlike PDP that has opened its account in Jammu with two seats and ending runners up at many places.

Kashmir region has 46 seats in the House. Off this, in the eleventh assembly, PDP has 18, the Congress has three and four are with independents, leaving 21 with NC. Of the four seats in Ladakh, two in Kargil were bagged by NC and from neighbouring Leh one each went to an independent and the Congress. In Jammu, 11 constituencies are with the Congress, 11 with BJP, six with NC, three with the Panthers Party, two with PDP, and two are with independents.

The Congress and NC are the only parties that have presence in all the three regions. The two parties, having a long history of being allies ��� formal and informal, can opt for an alliance because the numbers give them the majority they require to rule J&K . NC has 28 seats and the Congress 17. Once an alliance is cobbled, at least three independents and the Panthers Party trio can join them to have better numbers. But is it going to happen?

There is also a possibility of a coalition between the the Congress and PDP if the parties can revive the understanding that helped them to rule J&K for most of the last six years. The coalition landed in trouble in July last when PDP withdrew its support after the summer agitation forcing governor���s rule in J&K.

PDP president Ms Mehbooba Mufti has ruled out the possibility of her party���that emerged second��� approaching any others for support. "Anybody who seeks our support is welcome," she said. But that does not mean PDP is not making efforts to get the power.

Insiders in the Congress and PDP suggest that even though the Congress is seriously considering having alliance with NC because the latter has emerged as the largest party in J&K , Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and home minister P Chidambaram will think twice before giving it a go-ahead. The younger lot in the Congress that includes Rahul Gandhi and Prathvi Raj Chouhan are not supportive of the idea especially because they allegedly are not supportive of the politics of PDP president Ms Mehbooba Mufti.

All depends on how Congress heavyweights in the state responds. Prof Saifuddin Soz is unlikely to support an NC-Congress embrace for more than one reason. Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been very supportive of an alliance with NC for most of the twoand-half years he led the state is still indecisive over the issue, insiders said. The only problem that the Congress will face is the projection of PDP that it represents Kashmir���s ���soft separatism���.

In case the Congress remains cold to the idea of an alliance with NC, Dr Abdullah could go for an alliance with BJP reviving the NDA days. With the support of barely six others, NC leading J&K is not a misplaced idea. However, both NC and BJP have already stated that they would not join hands. Though the efforts have begun to cobble together an alliance, insiders said it will be a protracted exercise. ���It is unlikely to be over soon���, an insider said.
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