SHAFAQNA – India’s federal government took direct control of the disputed Kashmir region after pro-India political parties failed to form a coalition government following a fractured mandate in state legislature elections, an official said Friday.
The state’s top elected official, Omar Abdullah, said he stepped down on Thursday after his National Conference party was defeated in the elections.
Abdullah said in a series of tweets that he was stepping down as he had “no mandate to govern” as a caretaker official.
Gov. N.N. Vohra will rule the state on behalf of the federal government until political parties form a coalition commanding a majority support in the 87-seat legislature.
No single party managed to win majority in the election, which took place in several phases in November and December. The major parties scrambled to form an alliance to take power, but without success so far.
The regional pro-India Peoples Democratic Party emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats, while India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party bagged 25 seats. The National Conference won 15 seats and the Congress party 12 seats.
Separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 to end Indian rule. The uprising and a subsequent Indian crackdown have killed about 68,000 people, mostly civilians.
Incidents of violence have largely been suppressed by Indian forces. However, public opposition to Indian rule remains deep and in recent years has found expression in street protests marked by youths hurling stones at security forces.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of the Himalayan region, which is divided between the neighbors but claimed by both in entirety.