Seven seats went to smaller parties and independents including two bagged by the People’s Conference of Sajjad Lone, a former separatist leader. Yusuf Tarigami, a veteran Marxist, won again from the valley.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the record voter turnout in Kashmir as a sign of people’s faith in democracy, BJP president Amit Shah credited the unprecedented showing by his party in the state to the six months of good governance by Modi. The BJP, until now considered a bit player in Kashmir that too only in Jammu region, not only increased its seat tally from 11 in 2008 to 25 now, but polled the maximum votes - over 23 percent. 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 give them the numbers to comfortably form a coalition government.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said it 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”.
Although the final decision on forging an alliance would rest on Modi and Shah, BJP sources said opinion within was split on who the party should go with — the PDP or National Conference. The BJP did not field any senior leader or known face in the election. Instead, the party projected Modi as the answer to Kashmir’s long-standing problems.
Modi visited the state six times to campaign and focused mainly on issues of development. He also spoke against corruption and dynastic rule. On his part, 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.
“I have accepted the people’s verdict,” he said. “But those who thought we would do badly very badly have been proved wrong.”