National Conference emerging largest party in Jammu and Kashmir (Afternoon Lead)

December 28th, 2008 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu/Srinagar, Dec 28 (IANS) The National Conference Sunday was emerging as the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir as counting trends pointed to a hung legislative assembly in the state once again.Votes were being counted in various district headquarters across the state for the 87-member assembly. Of the 11 results declared till afternoon, the National Conference, headed by Omar Abdullah, had won four while it was ahead in 26 others from where trends were available.

Key parties, including the Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the National Conference, appeared to be far behind the 44-seat half-way mark.

The father-son duo, Farooq and Omar Abdullah, were declared winners from Hazratbal and Ganderbal constituencies, respectively. The junior Abdullah was defeated from Ganderbal in 2002.

The PDP, which ruled the state with the Congress during the last almost six years, was leading in 18 seats. PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed won from Anantnag and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti bagged the Wachi constituency. The party had 16 seats in the dissolved assembly.

In the last elections, Congress had 20 seats and shared power with the PDP.

The Congress, which is likely to hold the key in formation of the new government, has won four seats and was leading in 12 seats. The party has suffered a setback in the Jammu region where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won three seats and is leading on 11.

Cashing on the Amarnath land row, the BJP has done well compared to its single win in the last elections.

The National Conference chief has already ruled out any alliance with the BJP.

“There is no question of aligning with parties that tried to divide the state on communal lines,” Abdullah told reporters.

Asked if he meant no alliance with the BJP, Abdullah said: “I am not signalling but clearly saying that the National Conference cannot join hands with the BJP.”

The 38-year-old former union minister said his preference would be to align with the Congress in case the National Conference decides to stake claim to forming the government.

He said the options of partnering with other “like-minded” parties were open.

Former chief minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad declined to say which party the Congress would support if it decides on an alliance for forming government.

The BJP also said it would not support the Congress, the National Conference or the PDP and would prefer to sit in the opposition.

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