Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A New Dynamic?

 The Jammu & Kashmir Assembly elections will indeed be happening this year, despite the unprecedented floods that destroyed the Kashmir valley. This then, could be CM Omar Abdullah's greatest nightmare, as a strong anti-incumbency factor against his administration (or the lack thereof) as well as the continued decline of the Congress across the country promises to deal a major blow to the former ruling alliance.

This election could perhaps see the sharpest divide between Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh in history. In Jammu and Ladakh, nothing less than a BJP sweep is expected. Thus, the battle is on in Kashmir, where the NC and the Congress are staring at defeat at the hands of the PDP. Some are already calling out the PDP's Mufti Sayeed as the next CM of the state. But it is apparent that Kashmir is not so solidly behind the PDP that Jammu and Ladakh's voice will not be heard. And therein lies the real story of the changing political landscape of J&K.

There are two possibilities, and neither of them include the NC in it. The Abdullahs will just have to live with the fact that, without the Congress backing them from Delhi, they simply have no way to stay in power. If the PDP comes just short of a majority, the Congress could lend it support, as always to keep "communal forces at bay" (oh, the irony!). The Congress itself is on weak ground, but it will certainly garner some seats nonetheless. Unless the NC enjoys political suicide, it will not support the PDP.

But then, what is the PDP comes in significantly behind and the verdict is badly fractured between the NC, the Congress and the PDP in Kashmir? Then, all eyes will be on the BJP, which can safely be assumed to have a strong contingent from Jammu and Ladakh. And then, it could be possible that the BJP-PDP form a government, or the PDP forms a minority government with the BJP's support. It is no secret that the PDP, always more attuned to the people of the Valley than the NC, prefers the BJP's handling of the state over the Congress-NC's. This could provide adequate smokescreen for a highly unlikely alliance.

Clearly, a very interesting contest is on the cards. 

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