Cong-NC To Jointly Contest Parliamentary Polls In J&K

Cong-NC To Jointly Contest Parliamentary Polls In J&K

6 March 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Neeraj Rohmetra

Jammu: Brushing aside their differences, National Conference (NC) – Congress coalition have entered into an electoral pact to jointly contest the forthcoming Parliamentary polls. However, the duo has failed to reach an understanding as far as the Assembly elections, due in October-November this year so far. Reliable sources in both the parties told EXCELSIOR that as per the seat sharing pact, each party will contest three seats each. While NC had already decided to repeat its candidates, Congress party is likely to take a formal decision tomorrow morning in a high level meeting being held at 10, Janpath. “While an informal consensus had already been reached amongst the coalition partners for the Lok Sabha polls, an official announcement would be made shortly by senior leaders of both parties”, sources said adding, “regarding the Assembly polls, the fate of alliance would depend on the results of the Parliamentary polls in the country particularly in the State”. “The Congress high-level meeting is likely to be attended among others by senior party leaders, who are directly handling the affairs of the party in the State. The participants would include AICC (I) president Sonia Gandhi, Congress General Secretary in-charge of J&K, Ambika Soni, Bhuvnesh Kaleet, Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad besidesJKPCC (I) chief, Saif-ud-Din Soz”, sources said. Sources stated that the meeting would discuss the probable candidates to be fielded on three seats by Congress party and would also hold deliberations on the electoral strategy to be adopted by the party in the border State. “It had become imperative to announce the candidates at the earliest as polls are due for Jammu -Poonch seat on April 10 and Udhampur-Doda on April 17 as per the schedule announced by Elections Commission yesterday”, sources asserted. Presently, the party is being represented by Madan Lal Sharma (Jammu-Poonch) and Lal Singh (Udhampur-Doda).Both these Congress sitting MPs had won the seats consecutively for two terms in 2004 and 2009 elections. In 2004, the Congress had alliance with PDP while in 2009; they had alliance with NC for Lok Sabha seats. Observers pointed out that it will be for the third time that Congress party would be contesting Parliamentary polls in alliance with a regional party in the State. While in 2004, the Congress party contested with People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in 2009 it had contested along with its present alliance partner – National Conference. The same alliance would be jointly contesting the forthcoming Parliamentary polls, starting from April 10. Political observers pointed out that the fate of alliance for the Assembly polls due in October-November this year would depend on the results of six Parliamentary seats in the border State and also the fate of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in these elections. It is pertinent to mention here that National Conference has already announced three candidates for Kashmir including Farooq Abdullah for Srinagar-Budgam Parliamentary constituency, Sharif-Din-Shariq for Baramulla-Kupwara segment and Mehboob Beg for Anantnag-Pulwama seat. However, the party has not divulged its plans for the Jammu region. Even as senior party leaders had indicated that the party is likely to repeat its two sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) Lal Singh and Madan Lal, a final decision is expected in tomorrow’s meeting being at 10, Janpath. “The final decision would also be taken keeping in mind the electoral strength of the alliance partners and candidates announced by rival parties like Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and PDP, who have already fielded their candidates”, sources remarked. “Congress – National Conference alliance had witnessed turbulent times over the of issue of constitution of new administrative units. The alliance had reached a point of virtual break-up amidst reports of resignation by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah over the sensitive issue”, sources asserted. On February 27, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tonight announced candidates for five Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and Kashmir fielding heavyweights Jugal Kishore, state party president and Dr Jitendra Singh, member national executive and chief spokesperson for J&K, for Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seats respectively. The PDP has already fielded Yash Pal Sharma for Jammu-Poonch, Arshad Malik for Udhampur-Doda, Tariq Hamid Qarra for Srinagar-Budgam, Muzaffar Hussain Baig for Baramulla-Kupwara and Mehbooba Mufti for Anantnag-Pulwama Lok Sabha seats. Ladakh Parliamentary seat is presently represented by Ghulam Hassan Khan, who also contested the LAHDC Kargil elections on NC mandate and was declared elected from the Silmoo seat.