The Congress announced an alliance with the National Conference (NC) on Wednesday, but the two parties failed to reach a consensus on seat-sharing for the six Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.
“[NC president] Dr. Farooq Abdullah is a legendary leader. The Congress will not field any candidate from the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat and will jointly campaign for his seat,” said Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at a joint press conference in Jammu. “Traditionally, we have been allies. Dr. Abdullah and Omar Abdullah have been attending meetings of the Opposition parties across the country and had supported the idea of unity of secular forces.”
Mr. Azad was flanked by Congress’s J&K in-charge Ambika Soni, State Pradesh Congress president Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Dr. Abdullah. After days of talks, the two parties failed to reach a consensus on seat-sharing. The Congress decided to field candidates from the Anantnag and Baramulla seats, where NC is also contesting. The NC had asked the Congress not to field candidates in the Valley.
“In Kashmir Valley, transfer of votes is a difficult thing. We have MLAs in south and north Kashmir and to keep our vote bank intact, we have decided to have a friendly fight [with the NC]. There will be no cut-throat politics. Whichever party wins, it will only add to our national kitty. It will be a win-win situation,” Mr. Azad said.
The two parties have decided to fight together in the Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seats, where the BJP is strong. It had won both the seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“In Jammu, we would have cut into each other’s votes. Here we are contesting together,” Mr. Azad said.
The two parties, however, remained non-committal on the Ladakh seat. “We are discussing the seat,” said Dr. Abdullah, who advised the Congress to stitch alliances with like-minded parties elsewhere in the country against “divisive and communal forces”.