D-Day: Verdict On High-stake J-K Assembly Battle Today

22 December 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: The fate of Jammu and Kashmir's mainstream and national political parties will be known on Tuesday when the results of the month-long high-stake electioneering battle for the state Assembly are announced. The counting of 47.11 lakh votes cast in the five-phase elections to elect 87 candidates will begin at heavily-guarded centres across the state at 8 am. While the BJP is looking to realise its 'Mission 44+' dream, the Peoples Democratic Party aims to wrest power from the National Conference-Congress alliance. For separatist-turned-mainstream Peoples Conference, this is its first attempt at seeking people's validation for the state Assembly. The 831 candidates whose fate will be unveiled on Tuesday include NC's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and PDP's former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The counting will begin at 28 centres across the state and outside - meant to count migrant votes - at 8 am, and the first trends will emerge by 9 am. By early afternoon, the names of winners and losers will be clear. The administration has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code around counting centres in all districts of Kashmir, banning the congregation of five or more people. A multi-tier security ring has been thrown around the counting centres. 'The Deputy Commissioners of all districts have been instructed to make adequate security arrangements and adhere to the instructions of the Election Commission,' Rohit Kansal, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, told The Tribune. The BJP, which swept the country in the parliamentary elections earlier this year, is eyeing to emerge as the single largest party in the state for which it had devised the ambitious, but over-stretched, 'Mission 44+' - a reference to the numbers required to form the government. With star campaigners Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, the BJP brought in a brigade of its leaders to every region of the state as it vowed to work for development. The party's 2008 strength in the 87-member Legislative Assembly is 11. The NC, which is the main partner in the incumbent state government, is hoping to hold its ground after it faced an unprecedented rout in the parliamentary elections. The exit polls are already suggesting the party is losing much of it ground. 'I am confident that we will do very well tomorrow and that we will have a reason to rejoice,' said Junaid Mattu, party spokesperson. The NC had won 28 seats to emerge as the single largest party in the 2008 elections. This election has turned out to be one of the most daunting challenges the party has faced since its formation 75 years ago. The Congress, the alliance partner in the incumbent state government, had emerged as the third largest party in the state in the 2008 elections claiming 17 seats. Party's local leaders, however, had a fractured relation with the ruling NC during the past six years and it also faced BJP's upbeat campaigning in the Jammu region, from where it had gained much of its numbers. The most-watched party in the ongoing election has been the PDP, the youngest of all its competitors. Formed in 1999, the party witnessed a meteoric rise as it won 16 seats in its first election in 2002, emerged as the second largest party in the state with 21 seats in 2008 and vanquished its key rival National Conference in the parliamentary election earlier this year.