Congress, National Conference End Alliance In J&K

19 July 2014
The Hindu

Srinagar: The National Conference-Congress coalition in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday hit the rocks as the two parties announced that they will go it alone in the Assembly polls in the State due later this year. Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and Saifuddin Soz announced in Jammu that the party will fight the Assembly elections alone and will not enter into any pre-poll alliance. 'After extensive talks with Congress leaders and workers at all levels, the party has come to the conclusion that we are going to fight the forthcoming Assembly elections on our own strength,' Ms. Soni, in-charge of J&K Congress, told reporters. 'We will put up candidates or support some of the traditional alliance candidates on all the 87 seats in J&K alone', she said. Minutes later, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is working president of the National Conference, took to Twitter to announce that he had informed Congress president Sonia Gandhi 10 days ago that there will be no pre-poll alliance in the State. 'I met Mrs Gandhi 10 days ago & thanked her for all her support. I conveyed NC's decision to fight the elections alone,' Mr. Abdullah said on Twitter. He said he explained the reasons to the Congress president for not entering into a pre-poll alliance 'but also told her I wouldn't be making a public announcement because I didn't want it to look opportunistic. 'For it to be spun now as a Cong decision is wrong & a complete distortion of the facts, not surprising but incorrect nonetheless,' he added. Ms. Soni, who was flanked by Mr. Azad and JKPCC chief Mr. Soz, said, 'Most of the workers and leaders of Congress wanted us to go alone in elections.' The votes in Lok Sabha elections were not transferred to each other resulting in the debacle, she said, adding, 'There was not much of help that came from our alliance partner in previous elections.' Mr. Azad said the party wants to emerge as the single largest party in the State and it will focus on completing pending projects in the State. The National Conference and the Congress entered into a post-poll alliance following a hung verdict in the 2008 Assembly elections in the State. Although the coalition government has almost completed its term of six years, the sailing for the two parties has not been smooth as second rung leaders from both parties have indulged in public spats over many issues. The NC and Congress contested the recent Lok Sabha polls together and were routed by the opposition PDP and the BJP in all six seats. While the Congress lost Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh seats to the BJP, the PDP made a clean sweep against the NC in the three seats of the Valley. The Congress decision to go alone in the Assembly elections has sparked hope of a better showing than the LS polls among the younger leaders of the party. 'I welcome the decision of the Congress Party to contest the J&K election on its own. This respects the sentiments of our workers,' Salman Soz, who is a media panelist for the party, said. 'By not forming a pre-poll alliance with any party, Congress expands choice in J&K. This is good for the people of J&K and good for the party,' he added.