Srinagar: The Congress debacle in the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa will impact the balance of power in Jammu and Kashmir where it is part of the ruling coalition with the National Conference (NC).From analysts to the canny person on the street, the results of the five state elections are being discussed avidly in the Kashmir Valley. 

Corruption is back on the agenda and the Congress would have to do intense introspection on why it lost, winning only Uttarakhand by the proverbial whisker and retaining Manipur, say a cross-section of people.  Most agree that the Congress will have to address the issue of corruption at the national and state levels more seriously. The equation between the two ruling parties will also be under the scanner.  'One thing is definite.

The Congress will have to do some serious soul searching. It will have to accept that corruption is one big issue people will ignore no longer,' said Muzaffar Ahmad, a college principal here.  Some believe the Congress-NC power balance would definitely be affected in the days to come. 

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would emerge stronger as the Congress will now be busy doing some damage control exercise.  'It might not affect the political scenario in the valley but in the Jammu region the tremors from adjoining Punjab and Uttar Pradesh cannot be stopped,' warned Harbans Nagokay, a Jammu-based analyst. 

The Congress has 13 seats from the Jammu region and three from the valley in the 87-member state assembly. The next state elections are due in 2014.  The Congress leadership can no more overlook the infighting among the state Congress leaders and the damage done to the image of the party. 

'If the Congress fails to put its house in order in the state, the beneficiaries could be the BJP, BSP and even Samajwadi Party,' said one Congress activist who did not want to be named.  The other view on the streets is that it would be smooth sailing till 2014 for Omar Abdullah if the going gets tough for the Congress in the state.  While some speculate whether the chief minister would prefer a weak Congress, Abdullah doffed his hat to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who accepted responsibility for the party's debacle in Uttar Pradesh. 

'Hats off to Rahul. Anyone can celebrate victory but it takes courage to stand up and accept the blame for defeat,' Abdullah tweeted.  Some locals believe the results would have a healthy effect on national politics. 

In Uttar Pradesh the SP came to power; in Punjab the Akali Dal-BJP combine retained power; Goa saw the BJP oust the Congress; Uttarakhand was a close call; and Manipur stayed with the Congress.  'It was believed before these elections that corruption had ceased to be an issue in Indian politics. It was believed caste, religion and region were the issues on which elections were decided.

The BJP's defeat in Ayodhya is an important development. Emotions would perhaps not work in elections anymore,' said Abid Wani, 42, a businessman here.  Fruit-seller Mehraj-ud-Din said, 'I don't believe charges of corruption against ministers and politicians can be taken non-seriously by the party high command in the future. People in politics will have to change for better. If they don't, what is in store for them is clear.'