No Pre-poll Alliance With Cong For LA Polls: NC

16 June 2014
Rising Kashmir
Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar: Ruling National Conference (NC) Monday ruled out any pre-poll alliance with Congress for the Assembly elections but decided to continue the coalition until the last day of the government. NC's Provincial Working Committee meeting for Kashmir presided over by party's General Secretary and Minster for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar at Nawai Subh headquarters here decided NC should not go for a pre-poll alliance with Congress, sources said. They said NC leaders told Sagar that the party faced the debacle in the parliamentary polls due to the involvement of Congress ministers in various scams. NC leaders told the party's General Secretary that while the mistakes were committed by the Congress ministers, it was the NC government that people were blaming. Talking to Rising Kashmir, Sagar said the party had asked the district presidents and block presidents to recommend three names for each assembly constituency in Kashmir province which would later be shortlisted by the party high command. Sagar, who presided over the meeting first time as the party's General Secretary after taking over from veteran NC leader and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's uncle Sheikh Nazir Ahmad, urged party leadership to focus on addressing the problems of the common masses like creating more job opportunities for the youth, implementing infrastructural improvements in the Public Distribution System (PDS), reducing the power tariff by taking into account financial hardships of the common masses and allocating ration to consumers as per 2011 Census. Sagar said NC's Working President and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had summoned a meeting of the Party's Central Working Committee (CWC) on the Wednesday at 9 am at the party headquarters. He said CWC would discuss various important measures and party's overall strategy for the forthcoming LA polls. NC along with its coalition partner Congress had faced a debacle in the parliamentary polls and failed to open account while their opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the rightwing BJP had won three seats each. Following the poll debacle, NC has started its 'Mission Bounce Back' and the government led by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has announced several populist measures including revoking of SMS ban, scrapping of new recruitment policy, enhancement of retirement age of government employees from 58 to 60 years, and increase of age bar for recruitment from 37 years to 40 years. Talking to Rising Kashmir, senior NC leader and Minister for Higher Education, Muhammad Akbar Lone said the Provincial Working Committee meeting held discussion about the programs the party need to take to prepare for the LA polls scheduled later this year. 'The party leaders discussed the measures that need to be taken for making the party strong and ensuring the win of the party candidates in the Legislative Assembly polls,' he said. Lone said the party leaders also ruled out having any pre-poll alliance with Congress. 'However, NC would continue the coalition with Congress,' the senior NC leader said. Lone said Sagar, who was presiding over the meeting, had appreciated the work of Sheikh Nazir as General Secretary of the party in the past. During the meeting, NC Provisional President Kashmir Nasir Aslam Wani lauded the contributions of Sheikh Nazir in nurturing the party cadre and strengthening the ideological edifice of the party. Senior NC leader and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's uncle, Mustafa Kamal said no one in the party was in favour of a pre-poll alliance with Congress. 'Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifuddin Soz have already made it clear that they are not ready for a pre-poll alliance with us,' Kamal said. 'Similarly, the NC leadership is also not interested in a pre-poll alliance with Congress but the NC President (Farooq Abdullah) and the new General Secretary (Ali Muhammad Sagar) need to clarify why a final decision is not taken in this regard.' He said NC did not enter into alliance with Congress in 2008 but only had a seat sharing arrangement with them after elections threw up a hung assembly. However, Kamal said NC would not ditch Congress like PDP which had brought down the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government in 2008. 'The coalition will continue until the last day of the government,' he said.