No clear winner in J&K polls

Srinagar, December 28:

Kashmir’s first election since a wave of deadly protest swept through the region was likely to result in a deadlocked legislature, officials said today, sparking a scramble to form a new coalition government.

Election workers tallied the results as government forces patrolled the streets in combat gear, but early returns indicated that no single party won enough seats to control the new state government, a local election officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The creation of the new state government marks the end of nearly six months of federal rule in India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Separatists had urged residents to protest and boycott the vote, saying the election would only strengthen India’s hold on the Himalayan region.

But instead, voting was largely peaceful, with a higher-than-expected turnout of more than 60 percent, though there were scattered anti-India protests throughout.

The elections, which began November 17 and ended on Wednesday, were held in seven phases. The staggered balloting allowed the government to deploy thousands of security forces in each area in a bid to prevent the deadly violence sparked by elections in 2002 and thwart separatist attempts to enforce the boycott.

The results pointed toward a deadlock between the National Conference party and the People’s Democratic Party, which both have pro-India stances. The rival parties are unlikely to team up and form a coalition, so the key may lie with the Congress party.

Even before the final results were in, National Conference party officials said they planned to approach Congress to discuss forming a new alliance, according to Omar Abdullah, the National Conference leader. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among several senior Congress leaders to visit Kashmir during the campaign season.

“It is not important who wins but what is important is that people of Kashmir have expressed full faith in democracy and our neighbour (Pakistan) should learn from this,” Gandhi said today.

“It’s a victory for democracy.” The Congress party, which leads the governing coalition currently in power in New Delhi, ruled Jammu-Kashmir state in an alliance with the People’s Democratic Party until August when the chief minister resigned following weeks of deadly anti-India protests that left more than 50 people dead.

The federal government stepped in to fill the vacuum and announced plans to hold the phased


Separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 to end Indian rule. The uprising and a subsequent Indian crackdown have killed about 68,000 people, most of them civilians.

Farooq Abdullah mum on CM candidate

SRINAGAR: National Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah said on Sunday that a final decision on a chief ministerial candidate would be made by the party if an alliance is worked out between the NC and the Congress. “It is too early to comment on who the chief ministerial

candidate would be. I have not so far been in contact with the Congress for working an alliance with them,” Abdullah told reporters after his arrival here from New Delhi. “Once we work out an alliance with the Congress, the choice of the chief minister would have to be discussed by the two parties,” he said.

Asked whether his son and party president Omar Abdullah could be the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Abdullah said candidly, “Why not? Omar is a young man ready to serve the people”. — IANS