Jammu: The NC-Congress coalition in Jammu and Kashmir today hit the rocks as the two parties announced that they will go it alone in the Assembly polls in the state due later this year.
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and Saifuddin Soz announced in Jammu that the party will fight the the forthcoming Assembly elections alone and will not enter into any pre-poll alliance.
“After extensive talks with Congress leaders and workers at all levels, the party has come to the conclusion that we are going to fight the forthcoming Assembly elections on our own strength”, Soni, General Secretary AICC and in-charge of J&K Congress, told reporters.
“We will put up candidates or support some of the traditional alliance candidates on all the 87 seats in J&K alone”, she said.
Minutes later, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is working president of National Conference, took to social media to announce that he had informed Congress President Sonia Gandhi 10 days ago that there will be no pre-poll alliance in the state.
“I met Mrs Gandhi 10 days ago & thanked her for all her support. I conveyed NC's decision to fight the elections alone,” Omar said on Twitter.
He said he explained the reasons to the Congress president for not entering into a pre-poll alliance “but also told her I wouldn't be making a public announcement because I didn't want it to look opportunistic.
“For it to be spun now as a Cong decision is wrong & a complete distortion of the facts, not surprising but incorrect nonetheless,” he added.
Soni, who was flanked by Azad and JKPCC chief Soz, said, “Most of the wokers and leaders of Congress wanted us to go alone in elections”.
The votes in Lok Sabha elections were not transferred to each other resulting in the debacle, she said, adding, “There was not much of help that came from our alliance partner in previous elections”.
Azad said the party wants to emerge as the single largest party in the state and it will focus on completing pending projects in the state.
National Conference and Congress entered into a post-poll alliance following a hung verdict in the 2008 Assembly elections in the state.
Although the coalition government has almost completed its term of six years, the sailing for the two parties has not been smooth as second rung leaders from both parties have indulged in public spats over many issues.
The NC and Congress contested the recent Lok Sabha polls together and were routed by opposition PDP and BJP on all six seats. While Congress lost Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh seats to BJP, PDP made a clean sweep against the NC in the three seats of the valley.
Congress decision to go alone in the Assembly elections has sparked hope of a better showing than the LS polls among the younger leaders of the party.
“I welcome the decision of the Congress Party to contest the J&K election on its own. This respects the sentiments of our workers,” Salman Soz, who is a media panelist for the party, said.
“By not forming a pre-poll alliance with any party, Congress expands choice in J&K. This is good for the people of J&K and good for the party,” he added.
Meanwhile, reacting to the Congress's announcement to sever ties with his party, National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana today said “it has not come as surprise for us”.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, during his meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on July 8, had informed her that NC would go it alone in the Assembly polls and so “it is no surprise for us”, Rana claimed.
He said, “Internally we have been informed that the decision has been conveyed to the Congress and we were prepared to contest all the seats ourself.”
The NC leader said, “If you have looked at the first list of mandate issued earlier this week, you will realise that we have announced candidates from R S Pura and Jammu West - seats that were not represented by us.
Had there been seat adjustments we would have not done that.” On the issue of Omar not going public with the decision, Rana said, “The Chief Minister had taken a conscious decision not to go to the media on this and it was conveyed in that meeting (with Gandhi).”