Fractured mandate likely in J&K

SRINAGAR (TIP): Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) seems to be heading towards a hung Assembly with no political party having a clear advantage after two rounds of the five-phase elections. The Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), National Conference (NC) and the People⠙s Democratic Party (PDP) have all claimed decisive advantages after the end of the two phases. Polling was held in 33 out the 87 constituencies and ground reports give the Congress the edge. In the first phase on November 25 in which 15 seats went to the polls, the contest was mainly between the Congress, NC and the BJP.

Political analysts believe that the Congress may win six to eight seats in the first phase, followed by the NC and the BJP. The first phase was held mainly in the Assembly segments which have remained the Congress and NC bastion for decades. In the second phase, where 18 constituencies went to the polls, all the four parties may share seats. In this phase, the Peopleâ ™s Conference (PC) headed by separatist-turned-mainstream leader Sajjad Lone, is expected to win two to three seats in the frontier district of Kupwara in north Kashmir.

Political analysts, however, believe that the equation can change in the remaining rounds scheduled for December 9, 14 and 20 as the PDP and BJP has a clear advantage in these 54 seats. While 12 seats in south Kashmir, considered to be a PDP bastion, are going to the polls in the third and fourth phase, most seats in the urban areas of Hindu-dominated Jammu region will have elections in the fourth and fifth phases.

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