National Conference to map its political strategies

Srinagar, April 5 (IANS) With talk of early elections in the air, its ripples have reached Jammu and Kashmir, where the ruling National Conference (NC) will hold a working committee meeting Saturday to discuss the fluid political situation in the country and the party’s likely strategies.

The powerful working committee comprises all the senior leaders of the party, including Farooq Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and NC general secretary Sheikh Nazir.

“We will have to devise a strategy on what to do if something untoward happens with the UPA at the centre. The NC working committee does not meet unless some serious issue is at hand,” Farooq Abdullah’s younger brother and senior NC leader Mustafa Kamal said.

Some senior NC leaders here feel early parliamentary polls are a reality that would have to be faced, given the withdrawal of DMK support to the UPA and the uncertainty that prevails over outside support to the UPA from the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav.

“Yes, it will have to be admitted that the UPA is running a minority government at the centre”, Mehboob Beg, an NC member of parliament told a local newspaper in Srinagar.

Omar Abdullah heads a coalition government that came to power after the NC worked out an alliance with the Congress after the 2008 assembly elections. Despite hiccups and disagreements over many issues, the NC and the Congress have been sticking together to keep the coalition on an even keel during the last five years.

Assembly elections are due in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014.

While elections to the country’s parliament are held after five years, the assembly elections are held after every six years, as per the state’s constitution. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country that has a constitution of its own, which is applicable concomitantly with the country’s constitution.

The possibility of assembly polls being held simultaneously with parliamentary elections, if the latter are held later this year, is also not being ruled out by some in the coalition government.

Some Congress leaders believe the assembly elections should be held together with parliamentary elections if the UPA government does not complete its full term.

“It would be better for the Congress to fight both the parliamentary and the state assembly elections together if the need arises for early elections in the country,” a Congress minister who did not want to be named told IANS.

On the other hand, most NC leaders maintain that the assembly elections should not be held in 2013, and the state government should complete its full six-year term, which ends in 2014.

Omar Abdullah has said that the NC and the Congress would fight the assembly elections in the state in alliance. Congress leaders here, however, assert that the final call on this would be taken by the party’s high command in Delhi.

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