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Foregone Conclusion

Highlights

If Jharkhand points to the continuing Modi/BJP dominance on the polls front to allow a sweep, the J&K scene is too complex to yield that

If Jharkhand points to the continuing Modi/BJP dominance on the polls front to allow a sweep, the J&K scene is too complex to yield that

The Exit polls were not really required to predict the outcome of the Assembly polls in Jammu & Kashmir and in Jharkhand. Writings on the wall have been clear. That the BJP would win in scam-hit Jharkhand, troubled by Naxalism, has been known. And that the BJP’s effort in J&K, despite bold a high pitch campaign by Modi, could fall short of the numbers has been known. If Jharkhand points to the continuing Modi/BJP dominance on the polls front to allow a sweep, the J&K scene is too complex to yield that. It remains to be seen if Delhi, the next key battlefield where Aam Aadmi Party is making a second bid at power, will reflect the Jharkhand sweep or the J&K mixed bag. Exit polls give the BJP anything between 37 and 61 seats in Jharkhand.

The pattern of Congress’ decline continues. The local Jharkhand Mukti Morcha factions also do not appear to be making any impact after their dismal governance and corrupt ways. Trends for Jharkhand polls also indicate that the reunion of Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad may not have found traction. If Chanakya Today survey is any indication, 47 per cent of Kurmis, the caste to which Nitish belongs, and 48 per cent of other backward castes (OBCs) may have voted for BJP. This does not augur well for the Mandal outfit. It underlines the challenge the duo will face from the resurgent BJP in adjoining Bihar. The State goes to polls next year.

For the OBC protagonists, it will be a do-or-die battle. While Jharkhand is essentially a ‘local’ affair, the J&K polls have national and even international implications. Powerful nations of the West and the Muslim world view the State as disputed. They have been watching how the BJP’s stratagem of scoring big in the Hindu majority Jammu, picking up seats in the once-Buddhist majority Ladakh and isolating the pre-dominantly Muslim majority Kashmir Valley would work out in electoral terms. It has been an audacious effort by the BJP that many in the Muslim world have called ‘conspiracy’ against the Valley – the real bone of contention. Exit polls indicate that the regional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may fall short of a majority, with the BJP coming next.

The National Conference of the Abdullah family and its ally, the Congress, are expected to lose badly. Such an outcome may require negotiations, even horse-trading, to form the next government. A postpoll line-up, assuming that a moderately separatist PDP and an aggressively integrationist BJP will be the top scorers, seems difficult to predict. The two have little common. It remains to be seen if the PDP will align with some local party to touch the 44 mark, or if the BJP, following the local compulsions, will support a PDP government from outside. Either way, if Exit polls prove right, a stable government in a sensitive state may be difficult.

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