Srinagar/Jammu: With no party getting a clear majority in Jammu and Kashmir, the state is set to get a coalition government.
The key players this time around are the PDP and the BJP after they bagged 28 and 25 seats respectively. The Congress with 12 seats and National Conference with 15 are also part of the various permutations and combinations being worked out.
Seven seats went to smaller parties and Independents, including two bagged by the People's Conference of Sajad Lone, a former separatist leader. Yusuf Tarigami, a veteran Marxist, won again from the Valley.
As politics is a game of possibilities, here are the key probabilities/options of government formation:
PDP-BJP (28-25): The BJP had hoped to win 44 seats -- enough to take power on its own in Jammu and Kashmir. That did not happen. But a PDP-BJP coalition would make them partners in a power-sharing arrangement. If the two join hands, the BJP likely to get Deputy Chief Minister's post. PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti had on Tuesday said her party would take time to form a government to provide "good governance". Her party spokesman Samir Kaul, however, said that "an alliance with the BJP is not ruled out". On Tuesday, outgoing Chief Minister Abdullah said the best possible combination would be one involving the BJP and PDP and chided the Congress for making overtures to the PDP for the sake of tripping the BJP.
PDP-Congress (28-12): While Congress has offered unconditional support to PDP to form the new government, the regional party is playing a wait- and-watch game before entering into an alliance. Even if PDP and Congress join hands, they will fall short of the majority mark (44). Getting four more parties on board to reach the magic number will not be as easy as it sounds.
BJP-NC (25-15): Reports quoted BJP sources saying that a section within the party was of the opinion that a tie-up be stitched with the National Conference – ensuring that the CM would be of the BJP. Party chief Amit Shah, Tuesday, did not rule out joining hands with either PDP or National Conference, saying "all options are open". Outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's support for conferring the Bharat Ratna on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before counting of votes took place indicated that he might be eyeing a post-poll alliance with the BJP.
Minority government: The BJP, until now considered a bit player in Kashmir that too only in Jammu region, increased its seat tally from 11 in 2008 to 25 now. No doubt, the party has emerged as a 'relevant force' in the state. Another option being mulled by the BJP is supporting a minority PDP from outside.