NC, PDP & Congress firming up for pre-poll alliance in J&K

Srinagar, Mar 1 (IANS): Political circles are agog in J&K saying that a seat-sharing agreement between the Congress, National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in the offing and an announcement to this effect is likely within the next few days.

NC president, Dr. Farooq Abdullah had earlier said that his party would fight all the Lok Sabha seats in J&K and Ladakh on its own.

Dr. Abdullah appears to have climbed down from his stand as sources within the NC and the Congress are now saying that he never meant to rule out a pre-poll alliance between like-minded political parties.

NC vice president Omar Abdullah had told reporters after his father’s statement that the NC was engaged in seat-sharing parleys with the Congress.

Vikar Rasool Wani, president of J&K Congress unit, told reporters recently that the seat-sharing agreement with the NC and the PDP is under serious consideration.

Speculation is now rife that the agreement about pre-poll alliance between NC, PDP and the Congress could be announced sooner than later.

Insiders say that the seat-sharing agreement could be announced before the end of the first week of this month.

“NC would contest the Srinagar-Budgam-Ganderbal Lok Sabha seat and Omar Sahib would be the NC candidate.

“Mehbooba Mufti would be the PDP candidate from south Kashmir Anantnag-Rajouri-Poonch Lok Sabha constituency and the NC would support her candidature.

“North Kashmir Baramulla Lok Sabha seat would be conceded to the NC by the PDP and the Congress as these two parties would not field any candidate against the NC nominee from this constituency,” sources within the probable election allies said.

Same sources said the name of the NC candidate for the Baramulla seat is yet to be finalised.

Meanwhile, it is now believed that senior leader and former deputy chief minister, Muzafar Hussain Beigh could stand as an independent candidate for Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency.

Peoples Conference president, Sajad Gani Lone has already announced that he would fight the polls from Baramulla constituency for the PC.

BJP state unit president, Ravinder Raina is likely to contest the Lok Sabha polls from south Kashmir Anantnag seat.

Raina would mainly depend on the BJP cadre in Anantnag, Rajouri and Poonch districts, the segments for the south Kashmir Lok Sabha constituency.

In addition to this, the Pahari community living in Rajouri, Poonch and some parts of Anantnag and Kulgam districts are likely to support Raina overwhelmingly because the Paharis were recently granted the ST status by the Government of India.

In contrast to this, Mehbooba Mufti is well entrenched in Anantnag district. Once the NC supports her, the large Gujjar/Bakarwal community living in Rajouri, Poonch and parts of Anantnag district is also expected to support her.

Prominent and largely popular Gujjar/Bakarwal leader, Mian Altaf Ahmad of the NC could garner a large number of voters from his community in favour of Mehbooba Mufti.

The outcome of two Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and Udhampur-Kathua is widely believed to favour the BJP.

Udhampur-Kathua Lok Sabha seat is presently represented by Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (PMO) while Jugal Kishore of the BJP represents the Jammu seat.

Whether Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore are repeated as the BJP candidates for these two seats is still not clear.

Even if these candidates are not repeated by the BJP for these two seats, the outcome would still favour the BJP as the party is well entrenched in both these constituencies.

Given these likely permutations and combinations, the forthcoming Lok Sabha election in J&K is going to be very interesting because of the number of stalwarts likely to throw in their hat into the poll ring.




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Title: NC, PDP & Congress firming up for pre-poll alliance in J&K

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