J&K contestants await results with bated breath

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Srinagar, Dec 21: More than 800 contestants in Jammu and Kashmir will spend a couple of nervous nights till December 23 when counting of votes for elections to the 12th Legislative Assembly will be held, after a record turnout in the five-phase polls in the state.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Opposition PDP's chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates, who are seeking election from the 87 constituencies. [BJP miles away from getting majority in J&K, PDP to get maximum votes: Exit polls]

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While Omar is contesting from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district.

Most of the observers will keenly watch the result of Handwara Assembly constituency in north Kashmir Kupwara district where separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is trying his luck. [Updates: J&K assembly elections 2014]

Most political observers and opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly in the state with no party getting a clear majority. Rumours are afloat about various political parties trying to work out an alliance, depending on the numbers thrown up post the declaration of results on Tuesday.

BJP has launched a scathing attack on its rival Congress on the national scene, and both regional players -- National Conference and PDP. These parties, while hitting out at BJP, have not spared each other as well.

National Conference and Congress, which were coalition partners for the past six years in the state but decided to go alone in the Assembly polls, fought a bitter war of words during the election campaign. 

PDP, which ruled the state from 2002 to 2008 in coalition with Congress, also criticised its opponents. The ongoing elections will be a litmus test as much for BJP, which is making its first serious foray in Jammu and Kashmir to form a government, and Congress, which will be hoping to stay relevant in the state politics following the massive rout in Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.

BJP launched an aggressive campaign as part of its 'Mission 44+' -- the magic number required for simple majority in the state Assembly -- during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders of the party addressed election rallies across the state. The results will be a reflection of BJP's assessment of its chances of making inroads into the only Muslim-majority state of the country.

The party did not name a chief ministerial candidate. BJP had 11 MLAs in the 11 Legislative Assembly and any increase in the tally this year will be claimed as a Modi victory. Omar's National Conference, which was the single-largest part in 2008 polls winning 28 seats, is facing an uphill task to retain its position.

While the NC is already claiming a victory, some party leaders are giving away a sense of uneasiness over the results. Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, uncle of the current chief minister, said, National Conference will sit in the opposition, if it did not have the numbers to form the next government.

Congress, which had 17 MLAs, on the other hand has softened the election rhetoric. Instead of claiming to be the single-largest party, the party leaders are maintaining that no government formation will be possible without Congress involvement. PDP, which had 21 members in the 11th Assembly, is expecting to be the single-largest party, riding on the anti-incumbency and anger among the flood victims. However, the party leadership is silent about any post-poll alliance so far.

PTI

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