Congress Rally Tramples Omar’s Alliance Dream

Congress Rally Tramples Omar’s Alliance Dream

5 May 2013
New Indian Express
Tabish Naseer

Srinagar: After snubbing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah over his grand alliance remark for the upcoming Assembly elections, the Congress party in Jammu and Kashmir has made its intentions clear of not going for an alliance with the NC. The grand old party held a massive rally in the run up to the election in Omar bastion, Ganderbal, 22 kms from Srinagar. But, what made the Congress rally an important development in Kashmir politics was the AICC general secretary, Mohan Prakash’s presence. Prakash said in his address, “You need to empower Ishaq Khan and I assure you that Congress will also empower him.” Prakash is also in charge of the party affairs in Jammu and Kashmir. He joined the senior party leaders who addressed the crowd. In the run up to the massive rally, the state unit of the Congress made preparations to turn the event into a big success. Directions were given to the party rank and file in and around Ganderbal to ensure maximum participation. Political analysts said that by holding a rally in Ganderbal, the Congress wants to send across an unequivocal message to its coalition partner, National Conference. Those keenly observing Congress’ politics in the state believe that Mohan Prakash’s presence is part of the strategy to snub NC and say that it is not interested in an alliance with the party. A source said, “Besides, choosing Ganderbal is a calculated political move that gives an idea as to what Congress is planning for the coming Assembly elections. The coalition is clearly falling apart.” Early this month, state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz held a rally in one of the separatist bastions. “The party is clearly sending signals that it will sail alone,” he adds. Interestingly, when Omar’s grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah entered into accord with Indira Gandhi in 1975, he chose Ganderbal to enter the state assembly and since then, except in 2002 elections, this town has remained with the NC. The debate over the coalition partners jointly fighting election started after Omar, during a rally to felicitate the winners of Legislative Council elections surprised everyone by announcing a grand alliance with the Congress for the coming state assembly elections. But soon after he made the declaration, considered by many as premature, the Congress state leaders snubbed him and forced his party to launch a counter offensive. Tensions between the two parties have escalated with the lower and middle rung leaders blaming each other for bad governance and corruption. But since last month, the squabbles have reached the top of both the parties in spite the gag issue on the workers by both parties. Recently, after Soz claimed that Congress would emerged as a major political force in 2014, National Conference provincial president and closed aide of Omar, Devender Rana locked horns with him. The upshot of Rana’s verbal assault against the PCC chief was that Congress had never been the ‘A’ team in the state. He said, “National Conference has been, is and will continue to remain a major player in the state politics. Despite emerging as single largest party with 28 members in the Legislative Assembly in 2002, National Conference decided to sit in opposition because it felt that the people had not mandated the party to power. This made Peoples Democratic Party to form the government in alliance with the Congress,” he said, taking a dig at the Congress and the PDP.”