JK parties gear up for battle

1977-arrangement on seat sharing no binding: We’re free to contest at will: PDP; We’re everywhere: Congress

PARLIAMENTARY POLLS

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Apr 10: The eccentric postures of Congress has prompted the ruling National Conference to make it clear that the seat sharing agreement of 1977 over Parliament constituencies was no binding on the party as it was exploring ways and means to contest on all six seats in three regions of the State.
Interestingly, Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also believe that they are ‘ubiquitous’ enough in all three regions and can pocket all six seats.
According to NC’s Additional General Secretary Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal, the whimsical postures by the State Congress have forced the NC to prepare for a big fight. “We are going to contest alone given that Congress has made its stand clear,” he said. 
Kamaal, however, said that the seat sharing agreement on contesting polls on equal basis was taken in 1977 by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and the then Congress leadership.
“In between, we contested on Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary seat as well and we won. So the agreement we had entered into Congress in late 70’s is not a cabinet document or a party document. That’s not even any sort of binding on us,” he said. “We will go alone and explore all possibilities of contesting on all six seats of Parliament constituencies— three in Kashmir, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh.”
At present, NC represents three Parliament seats while Congress holds two in Jammu region. The Ladakh seat was won by Ghulam Hassan Khan, who had contested as an independent candidate in 2008.
Senior NC leader and MP from South Kashmir Dr Mehboob Beg said the past arrangements between Congress and NC were time-bound and temporary. “Every seat sharing agreement is based on the alliance the parties are going to make. If we enter into pre-poll alliance, the situation will remain almost same as it is,” he said. “But if pre-poll alliance doesn’t take place, we have to go on our own.”
Sources said the statement made by PCC chief Saifudin Soz that Congress alone will form the government in future has unnerved the NC. “The party is fully aware of the serious inroads made in its constituencies by the Congress in Jammu and PDP in Kashmir. Directions have been passed to all NC leaders to start visiting their respective constituencies. This has been done with an aim to capture the mood of people on ground so that party could take future decisions accordingly,” a source said.
On the other hand, the Congress claims that political situation has changed a lot since the Amarnath land row in 2008. “BJP hijacked the sentiments of people of Jammu in 2008 and managed to win 11 seats. But today, the situation is altogether different, we are not just safe as far as the Parliament seats are concerned but have garnered support from entire Jammu region,” said a Congress leader, wishing not to be identified.
“We are still in coalition but the fact remains that Congress is stronger than it was earlier and has a capacity to win maximum,” said Congress chief spokesman, Ravinder Sharma. “It depends how situation will take place. There can be an alliance, there can’t be a coalition.”
Meanwhile, the opposition PDP claims that they have already made it clear that they were not going for any pre-poll alliance. “This makes us free to contest everywhere. We are a growing party and have a support base in all three regions,” said PDP chief spokesman, Naeem Akhter.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 10 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 10 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST




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