SRI NAGAR: The ruling alliance partners in Jammu and Kashmir – the National Conference and the Congress – have decided to part ways for the Assembly polls scheduled for later this year.
“The State Congress leadership, after due consultations with the party high command, has decided to contest Assembly elections on its own,” senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters on Sunday.
The Congress leaders and party workers had been pressing the party high command to go it alone in the Assembly polls after both coalition partners were routed in all six seats in the Lok Sabha polls.
Of the 87 Assembly seats, the Congress will contest in 84 seats, leaving three seats to its allies – Ghulam Hassan Mir in Tangmarg, Hakim Yasin in Beerwah and the CPM’s Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami in Kulgam.
Azad said state party leaders and workers were of the opinion that the party should not forge any pre-poll alliance with the National Conference or any other party.
“They wanted to contest alone and the party high command has agreed to their viewpoint,” he said.
The Congress fought the 2002 and 2008 Assembly elections on its own.
However, after the polls threw up a hung verdict, the party formed coalition governments with the Peoples Democratic Party in 2002, and the National Conference in 2008.
The Congress has only 17 members in the 87-member Assembly.
Azad and state Congress chief Saif-ud-Din Soz expressed hope that the Congress would emerge the single-largest party after the elections.
“We will try hard to revive the lost ground and overcome shortcomings before the elections and will successfully achieve 44-plus seats to form the next government in the state,” Azad said.
Asked who would be the party’s chief ministerial candidate, he said: “A decision will be taken at an appropriate time after taking all party leaders, MLAs and workers into confidence.”
Reacting to the Congress announcement, National Conference working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he had conveyed his party’s plan to go it alone to Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
“I met Sonia 10 days ago and thanked her for all her support. I conveyed NC’s decision to fight the coming elections alone,” Omar tweeted.
He said he had explained the reasons and told her that he would not be making a public announcement because he didn’t want to appear opportunistic.
“For it to be spun now as a Congress decision is wrong & a complete distortion of the facts, not surprising but incorrect none the less,” Omar tweeted further.
He said the decision not to forge any pre-poll alliance won’t have any impact on the coalition government in the state.
“The government will complete its full term,” he said.