Future electoral alliances finally ruled out in Kashmir? (Kashmir Newsletter)

Srinagar, April 13 (IANS) Despite past assertions by its leaders that the regional National Conference (NC) and the Congress would fight the 2014 assembly elections in alliance, the NC has finally decided to fight both the state and parliamentary polls on its own.

After its recent central working committee (CWC) meeting, NC leaders have come out more vocally against the local Congress leadership, indicating that the NC has now revised its poll strategy for the future.

Senior NC leader and legislator Mustafa Kamal has challenged state Congress president Saif-ud-Din Soz to prove his contention that the Congress would get a majority on its own in the assembly elections.

“Let him prove his statement,”, Kamal told reporters. Although Kamal has been known for his anti-Congress statements in the past, NC sources this time suggest he has been stating what appears to have been the consensus arrived at the CWC meet.

Another senior NC leader, who did not want to be named, said contesting in alliance with the Congress would go against the party’s stand on various issues.

“We stand for the repeal of the armed forces special powers act (AFSPA). We stand for restoration of autonomy to the state, we stand for the return of Afzal Guru’s body to his family. We have publicly stated that Afzal did not get a fair trial.

“These things would not go down well with the voters if we were to fight the elections in alliance with the Congress”, the NC leader said.

Of all the senior NC leaders, the party patron and union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah is still believed to be in favour of some sort of a broad-based electoral understanding with the Congress.

“But, given the general mood in the CWC, Dr. Abdullah has chosen not to make his desire public so far. This could be because he also believes in his heart of hearts that the NC might stand to lose if it decides to run an electoral alliance with the Congress”, sources close to the NC patron said here.

Interestingly, seeing the NC backtrack on its desire to fight the elections in alliance with the Congress, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also announced it would not ally with the Congress.

Addressing a media conference in summer capital Srinagar on Wednesday, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the PDP was not looking forward to an electoral alliance with the Congress even if the NC parted ways with the party.

The PDP leadership has been in the forefront of opposing the policies and programmes of the ruling NC during the last five years it has been in the opposition although its criticism against the Congress has always been muted.

“That is perhaps because the PDP does not want to completely shut its doors on the possibility of aligning with the Congress after the 2014 elections if that becomes necessary to keep the NC out of power”, said a middle rung NC leader here.

Whatever the future electoral permutations and combinations, one thing can be said with a fair measure of certainty: none of the three parties, the NC, the Congress or the PDP seriously believes it can get an absolute majority on its own in the 87-member assembly in the elections.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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