Srinagar: The fractured mandate in Jammu and Kashmir has left both NC and arch-rivals PDP caught in a cleft stick -- with second-placed BJP appearing to be their sole saviour.
With 15 seats, the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC) is out of power, but it has an option of supporting the BJP and thereby keeping its arch-rival the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power for the next six years.
The PDP's dilemma is even bigger. With 28 seats it has fallen short of its estimated projection of getting closer to 44, the simple majority needed to form the government.
The PDP's problem is also compounded by the fact that its most likely future ally, the Congress, has got just 12 seats. The two together have only 40 seats -- still short of the vaunted mark by four.
The vote count of the staggered five-phase assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir took place Tuesday.
There are seven independents who have won. Two of these are with Sajad Lone's People's Conference whose proximity to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is well known.
Barring the PDP, Sajad's party will support anyone.
Saeed Mohammed Bakir Rizvi, the lone independent candidate from Zanskar constituency of Ladakh region, has won with NC support and cannot support the PDP.
Pawan Kumar Gupta, the lone independent candidate from Udhampur, is a BJP dissident and is likely to return to the party.
Then there is Yusuf Tarigami of the CPM against whom the NC had not fielded a candidate.
This leaves Hakim Yaseen and Engineer Rashid, the other independent candidates who would support any dispensation that provides power to them. Many, however, believe Engineer Rashid might support no alliance.
This leaves just two possibilities, the PDP aligning with the BJP or the NC aligning with the BJP.
The PDP would have to compromise if it is forced to align with the BJP and the most difficult of such a compromise would be the BJP's push for a Hindu chief minister for at least half the term if the alliance is worked out on a three-year rotational basis.
On the other hand, the NC can keep the PDP out by supporting the BJP, but Omar Abdullah would be the biggest opponent of such a move even if his father, the NC president, Farooq Abdullah advised him to be more friendly to the BJP now that the hype raised against each other by the NC and the BJP during election campaign was over.
It is a catch-22 situation for the NC and the PDP and gives the controlling handle to the BJP that has 25 seats.
Ram Madhav, BJP national general secretary, is arriving here Thursday to spell out his party's terms to both the NC and the PDP -- if either of them is willing to cobble up a ruling alliance with the BJP.
Madhav will first meet Omar Abdullah and later call on Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, the PDP patron.
Omar has left for winter capital Jammu to submit his resignation to Governor NN Vohra before he flies back to Srinagar for his meeting with Ram Madhav.