March 2019 News

Congress, NC forge Alliance In Jammu And Kashmir For Lok Sabha Polls

20 March 2019
The Hindustan Times
Mir Ehsan

Srinagar: The National Conference and Congress on Wednesday sealed an alliance for three Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir and decided to go for friendly contests on three other seats. The state sends six MPs to the Lok Sabha. The Congress will not field any candidate against NC president Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar while the regional party left the seats of Jammu and Udhampur for the Congress. Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad and chairperson coordination committee for elections, Ambika Soni arrived in Jammu on Wednesday morning and finalized the deal with NC president, Farooq Abdullah after other senior leaders of the two parties ironed out the differences during a meeting Tuesday meeting. The deal was sealed three days after NC vice president Omar Abdullah had said NC candidates will contest from three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir and was open for an alliance with Congress if it agrees to leave three seats in the Valley to his party. Farooq Abdullah said that the NC and Congress leaders had threadbare discussion on an alliance in the state. 'We discussed how to strengthen the secular front and for this both the parties had to adopt give and take formula. We have decided to leave Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats for Congress. I will be contesting from Srinagar and there will be friendly contest on Baramulla and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats. We are also thinking on a friendly contest on Ladakh seat,' said Abdullah. The National Conference patriarch said the aim is that seats should be either won by NC or Congress. 'Secular parties should emerge as winners.' Azad praised the father and son duo of Farooq and Omar Abdullah and said both of them were involved in uniting the opposition. 'They always made efforts that on the national level secular parties should form a united front. Our decision was based on live and let live and there couldn't have been such a good arrangement. If in Jammu, NC would have fielded candidates that could have helped BJP and in Kashmir if we would have contested separately the transfer of votes would have been difficult. The places where there will be a friendly contest we won't have any cut throat competition. Our aim will be to beat third force even in Kashmir. At places where there will be friendly contest whether NC or Congress wins it does not make any difference,' Azad said. 'We all will campaign for Farooq Abdullah as he is a legendary leader and belongs to both the parties,' the Congress leader said. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the party high command will be naming candidates for the Lok Sabha seats. 'Our coalition will win all the seats,' he maintained. The NC had already named three candidates from Kashmir. While Abdullah who is a sitting MP will contest from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, former minister, Akbar Lone will be contesting from Baramulla seat. The party has named former High court judge, Husnain Masoodi from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. Under the new arrangement, the NC has to only name a candidate from Ladakh. In 2014, Congress candidate Ghulam Reza lost the Ladakh seat by 36 votes to the BJP candidate. Sources said Ghulam Ahmad Mir could be likely Congress candidate from south Kashmir and there is possibility that Salman Soz son of former J&KPCC president Saifudin Soz could contest from Baramulla Lok Sabha seat. In 2014 the NC and Congress had contested elections on all six seats jointly and lost all the seats to PDP and the BJP. However, in 2017 bye-elections, Farooq Abdullah emerged victorious amid low voter turnout.