NC-Congress bonhomie: More to it than meets the eye?

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Nov 22: A strategy adopted by the ruling National Conference and Congress over the elections to four Legislative Council (LC) seats from the Panchayat quota is understood to have cleared the decks for the two parties to forge a pre-poll alliance for the 2014 elections. To begin with, the Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and state Congress chief Saifudin Soz have joined hands and decided to address mega rallies of Sarpanchs and Panchs jointly to “build pressure on the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”
While some senior leaders in the ruling National Conference describe the present bonhomie as an “outcome of Rahul-Omar friendship”, many in the party see the “arrangement as a temporary and just confined to LC polls.” The Congress on the other hand believes that posing a united face while seeking votes for the four LC seats can cement the relations between the coalition partners and pave way to make a good beginning for the 2014 pre-poll alliance. The main opposition, however, feels that NC was losing ground and the party was “using Congress as a helping hand” to bag four LC seats.
“We will intensify the poll campaign in coming days. I have requested Azad sahib to address a joint rally with me and the chief minister,” State Congress chief Saifudin Soz told Greater Kashmir over phone from New Delhi.
Sources said Azad is expected to arrive here on Sunday to address a rally of Panchs and Sarpanchs at Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. “Similarly, there will be joint rallies in the South Kashmir districts (strong PDP bastion) by Omar and Soz,” they said.
The development comes close to the heels of historic show of unity by NC and Congress at Nawa-e-Subh complex here as the leaders of Congress party shared the stage with their NC counter parts to garner support for four LC seats.
Sources said the move to put a united face before the Sarpnchs and Panchs is a step to “build pressure on the main opposition PDP and other parties who have fielded their candidates for the LC seats.” Pertinently, many Sarpanchs and Panchs have filed papers to contest on all four LC seats thereby making the contest as a nail-biting one.
The Congress candidate for K2 seat of LC Ghulam Nabi Monga said addressing joint rallies by the leaders of NC and Congress can further cement the relations and turn out to be a good beginning for the pre-poll alliance of 2014 elections. “It can really turn out to be a good start for 2014,” Monga said.
However, NC Additional General Secretary Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal, said the arrangement to show a united face was a “temporary and restricted one” to bag all four seats. “I as a member of NC can’t say whether it can pave for another NC-Congress coalition in 2014. I believe NC can win by majority in 2014. It is also true that we came down from 60 seats to 28 but in 1977 and 1987 there was a coalition,” he said. “But still we won majority in 1996 and 2002. I believe NC is wedded to peoples’ sentiments.”
On the other hand, the main opposition, PDP is of the opinion that NC was losing ground in all three regions of J&K. “The NC has lost its credentials. Going for a pre-poll friendship (for LC elections) reflects the party has lost ground. This is for the first time in last six decades that Congress leaders shared NC roof,” said PDP leader Naeem Akhter. “We are not going to be bogged down by the joint rallies of NC-Congress leadership. We will fight seriously on all four seats of LC.”

Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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