2008 Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly election

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2008 Jammu and Kashmir state assembly elections

← 2002 17 November 2008 to 24 December 2008 2014 →

all 87 seats in Legislative Assembly
44 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Omar Abdullah (cropped).jpg Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg
Leader Omar Abdullah Mehbooba Mufti
Last election 28 16 20
Seats won 28 21 17
Seat change none Increase 5 Decrease 3

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Bhim Singh
Last election 1 4
Seats won 11 3
Seat change Increase 10 Decrease 1

Chief Minister before election

Ghulam Nabi Azad

Elected Chief Minister

Omar Abdullah

Elections for the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir were held over seven days in November and December 2008. The previous government led by the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party (PDP) in coalition with the Indian National Congress (INC) collapsed when the PDP withdrew. Following the election, the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC) agreed a coalition with Congress and their leader, Omar Abdullah became the state's youngest ever Chief Minister at 38.


Elections for the Jammu and Kashmir state Assembly were due in 2008, following the end of the term of the Assembly elected in 2002. However the PDP withdrew from the INC-led state government in protest at the Amarnath land transfer decision. The INC government resigned in July 2008 and the state was brought under direct rule of the central government pending the elections.[1]


The main Kashmiri separatist group, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference called on Kashmiris to boycott the elections, saying the elections were a "futile exercise" that would never "fulfill the aspirations of the people".[2]

Despite these boycott calls, NC leaders claimed that activists from Jamaat-e-Islami had comeout and voted for the PDP.[3]

There were scattered separatist protests throughout the elections, including hundreds who protested in Srinagar. Police prevented these protestors from marching to the centre of the city which led to protestors throwing stones at the police who fired tear gas and used baton charges.[4]


Indian election officials voiced major concerns about the security of the elections given the calls for boycott and protest from separatist leaders and the recent violence over the Amarnath land transfer controversy. Voting was staggered so that security forces could maintain control. Thousands of security forces were deployed during the voting. In Srinagar, security forces were posted at junctions, patrolled the streets and guarded polling stations. An unofficial curfew was enforced, gatherings of more than five people banned and neighbourhoods were sealed off with steel barricades and razor wire.[4]

Police also arrested three men they accused of being Jaish-e-Mohammed members planning suicide attacks in Jammu.[5] One of those arrested was a soldier in the Army of Pakistan, who Pakistan said had deserted in 2006.[4] However following the polls the NC leader, Farooq Abdullah, thanked the Pakistan government for their "non-interference" with the polls.[6]


The seven stages of the elections were held as follows:

Voting stages
Date Seats Turnout
Monday 17 November 10 69.02%
Sunday 23 November 6 68.29%
Sunday 30 November 5 68.22%
Sunday 7 December 18 59.24%
Saturday 13 December 11 58.5%
Wednesday 17 December 16 65.93%
Wednesday 24 December 21 52.0%
Total 87 60.5%

Turnout rose by 17%, despite calls from Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan for Kashmiris to boycott the election.[8][9] INC head Sonia Gandhi described the polls as "a triumph of Indian democracy".

Separatist supporters were said to have backed the PDP.[9] The BJP's increase in support was said to be due to polarisation arising from the Amarnath land transfer controversy, which led it to increase its seat tally from 1 to 11 seats.[10]

1,354 candidates stood for election including 517 independents and nominees from 43 political parties.[11]


e • d Summary of the November - December 2008 Jammu and Kashmir state assembly election results
Party Flag Seats +/–
National Conference JKNC-flag.svg 28 0
People's Democratic Party 21 +5
Indian National Congress Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg 17 -3
Bharatiya Janata Party 11 +10
Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party Indian Election Symbol Cycle.png 3 -1
Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI-M-flag.svg 1 -1
People's Democratic Front 1
Jammu & Kashmir Democratic Party Nationalist 1
Independents 4
Total (turnout 60.5%) 87
Source: Electoral Commission of India

Government formation[edit]

Former National Conference Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, said he did not want to return as it "required the energy of a younger man", and nominated his son, Omar Abdullah, and the head of the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference instead.[12]

Congress debated forming a coalition with either Conference or the PDP. It was reported that the PDP had offered to support a Congress candidate for Chief Minister if they joined with them. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi were reported to favour the largest party to "honour the mandate" of the election.[13]

On 30 December Congress and the National Conference agreed to form a coalition government, with Omar Adbullah as Chief Minister.[14]


  1. ^ Amarnath row divides Jammu and Kashmir Archived 2008-08-10 at the Wayback Machine NDTV, 16 August 2008
  2. ^ APHC to boycott Kashmir elections later this year[permanent dead link] Pakistan Times, 11 May 2008
  3. ^ Despite boycott call, Jamaat cadres come out in support of PDP Indian Express, 23 December 2008
  4. ^ a b c Voting ends in Indian Kashmir amid heavy security International Herald Tribune, 24 December 2008
  5. ^ Clashes mark final Kashmir poll BBC News, 24 December 2008
  6. ^ Pakistan conundrum hangs over Kashmir poll success The Hindu, 30 December 2008
  7. ^ "7-phase poll in J&K from November 17". Rediff. 19 October 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b Low voter turnout in final phase, Rediff India, 2008-12-24
  9. ^ a b Abdullahs back in J&K Times of India, 29 December 2009
  10. ^ BJP fields more Muslim candidates in J&K to shrug off communal tag
  11. ^ 35 political parties failed to win a seat in J&K polls Rediff India, 29 December 2008
  12. ^ Kashmiri parties in coalition bid BBC News, 29 December 2008
  13. ^ Cong dilemma: young Omar or PDP Calcutta Telegraph, 29 December 2008
  14. ^ Pro-India parties to take power in Indian Kashmir International Herald Tribune, 30 December 2008