It was the year 2002 The month of October The venue was Jammu, in J&K.

17 May 2018 12:37:55


 
Sant Sharma
 
A very long election which was bitterly fought and virtually a nightmare for security agencies had just ended. Nightmare in terms of casualties, repeated deployments at new places, as one phase of polling ended and another began. In another district. Or districts.
 
One day, at the start of the campaign during first or second phase, Sonia Gandhi was scheduled to address a public rally at Nowshera in Rajouri district during the elections. She was to be accompanied by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni. Terrorists struck big time in Poonch district and Sonia's visit was cancelled.
 
The twin districts, Rajouri and Poonch were, at that time, heavily infested with militants.
 
Killings of ordinary people and VIPs happened right from the beginning of electoral campaign in July to the sixth and last phase. Scores of IEDs were diffused, some went off and people died.
 
It was October 10 perhaps when the election results were announced. The National Conference (NC) led by Farooq Abdullah lost at the hustings.
 
The party position in J&K was very interesting. Despite the loss, the NC emerged as the largest party with 28 MLAs (it earlier had 57 perhaps), the Congress had 20 MLAs, the newly-formed People's Democratic Party (PDP) had 16 MLAs, Panthers Party of Bhim Singh with four MLAs was at the 4th position. Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) with two MLAs was 5th. 
 
Now 28+20+16+4+2=70. In a House of 87, what were the affiliations of other 17 MLAs. The BJP had won a single seat with its candidate, Jugal Sharma, returned triumphant from Nagrota. Jammu State Morcha (JSM) had won from Bishnah where Ashwani Kumar was its candidate.
 
CPM won from Kulgam and Yusuf Tarigami was its legislator. Of course, other 15 MLAs were all independents. A surprisingly large number of independents had won in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
 
Jockeying for the coveted post of Chief Minister started. Outgoing CM Farooq announced he will sit in the opposition with his party legislators.
 
The largest single party thus ruled out itself from the race for CM-ship.
Now started the tussle in right earnest between the second placed Congress led by Ghulam Nabi Azad and third placed PDP led by tenacious Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. The rivalry of Azad and Mufti had continued for the control of the State unit of the Congress earlier also.
 
Suddenly, hotel Asia, at that time perhaps the only decent hotel in Jammu, became the centre of all the action. Some Congress MLAs were put up there, and then started the gathering of all the independents. By the Congress.
 
All the five independent MLAs from the Jammu region started staying at Asia. Some independents from Kashmir were brought in to the hotel. One fine day, it was announced by the Congress that it had the support of 42 MLAs. That virtually meant everyone outside of NC and PDP, the lone BJP MLA and the JSM legislator.
 
The figure of 42 still fell short of the magic figure of 44 in a 87-member Legislative Assembly. Heartbreaking for Azad.
Interestingly, PDP and NC together accounted for 44, a clear majority, with one party having 28 and the other 16.
It was a stalemate if there could be one.
 
Even if Ghulam Nabi Azad could muster the support of everyone, including the BJP and JSM legislators, it only added to 43, one less than a clear majority.
 
Cutting the story short, it was announced that Sonia Gandhi had agreed to support the PDP. With both the PDP and the Congress sharing the six-year term equally.
 
It was also announced that Mufti will be the CM for the first three years of the term of the assembly. The Congress will have its CM in the second half of the term.
 
PDP, with 16 MLAs, and placed third in the assembly, had its CM, with second placed Congress with 20 MLAs supporting it and the largest single party, the NC, with 28 legislators sat on the opposition Benches.
 
This is how the final tally stood. 
1. The PDP got the number one position of CM though it had bagged third position with 16 MLAs.
2. The Congress stood supported the number 3 party to make it number 1.
3. The NC with first position at hustings with 28 MLAs was relegated to Opposition Benches.
.....
Think of present day Karnataka.
Party position there is 1. BJP with 104 MLAs 2. Congress with 78 MLAs 3. JD-S with 38  MLAs.
What is happening now?
The second placed party, the Congress, trying to push party third placed party to number one position.
These things have happened earlier also. They will continue to happen now too.
.....
The Congress had lost attempt to gain pole position. In J&K in 2002.
Who will be the loser in the present round in Karnataka?
We can only wait and watch.

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