By Sheikh Qayoom
Amid the uncertainty of what will be the election result Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir, two things are certain: there will be no alliance between the BJP and the Congress and none between the National Conference and the PDP.
A few other things can be said with some certainty.
The Peoples Democratic Party, which had 21 seats in the outgoing state assembly, may well be the single largest group in the 87-seat house.
And the Bharatiya Janata Party will emerge as a major player in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time since independence.
The BJP is widely tipped to be the second largest party in the house.
The National Conference is likely to take a severe beating, with most of its stalwarts already being described as losers from constituencies where they held sway in the past.
But the worst performer, it is feared, would be the Congress. In the outgoing assembly, the National Conference had 28 seats and the Congress 17. And they formed a coalition government.
Most opinion polls say the National Conference would find it very difficult to win even 15 seats while the Congress might not even get into double digits.
By the same calculations, the PDP is expected to get over 30 seats. But the prospect of its leader Mufti Muhammad Sayeed becoming chief minister again would depend on by how many more seats his party gets this time.
Sayeed says his party would win as many as 44 seats but even his well-wishers doubt that.
With the National Conference unlikely to get the numbers that would allow it to stake a claim for government formation even if it joins hands with the Congress, two possible alliances could emerge after the results are announced Tuesday.
The most logical alliance — in the eyes of some — would be between the PDP and the Congress but this will depend largely on how many seats the Congress gets.
If the Congress gets closer to 10 and the PDP around 35 seats, then the two would form the next ruling coalition.
If the PDP does secures around 35 seats but the Congress tally slips to less than six, the troubles for the PDP would start.
But will the National Conference support the BJP?
Also, will PDP approach the BJP or vice versa for support to cobble a ruling coalition?
The BJP has ruled out any truck with the National Conference or the PDP. But if politics is the art of the possible, the BJP aligning with the PDP or the National Conference cannot be ruled out.