With leaders of both the ruling National Conference (NC) and Congress blaming each other for their dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the bonhomie between the two ruling coalition partners in Jammu Kashmir seems to be over.
Though no formal decision has so far been taken by the respective leadership on the issue of parting ways in the coming Assembly polls, senior Congress and NC leaders have started assuring their workers that any decision on the alliance will be solely based on their inputs. “If you want to have an alliance, we will respect your views; and if you’ll oppose it, it will be not be forced upon you,’’ NC delegates, who wished not to be named, quoted chief minister and NC leader Omar
Abdullah as saying at a closed door meeting of party delegates here on Saturday. Responding to the anti-coalition sentiments expressed by party workers at the meeting, Omar said that breaking the alliance with the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls would have meant sacrificing the state government nearly 10 months ahead of the completion of its six-year term. “Going to the polls alone, while remaining in alliance with the Congress would not have gone together. We preferred to have pre-poll alliance with Congress as it was in the best interest of both the parties and the state,’’ he reportedly added.
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Of the six Lok Sabha seats in the state, NC and Congress drew a blank while BJP and PDP won three seats each. The Congress too has begun “introspection” meetings. At one such meeting convened by state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz at Samba on Sunday, party delegates openly criticised the working of the coalition government. “What to speak of ministers belonging to NC, our own ministers did not listen to our grievances,’’ party workers reportedly said at the meeting.
While the relationship between the NC and Congress are good at the level of senior leaders and ministers, it is not so at the level of party workers. Congress sources said NC workers did not work for their candidates during campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls. “Our workers were against the pre-poll alliance with the NC,’’ they said, adding the party suffered on account of resentment prevailing against the NC which has stalled implementation many people-friendly initiatives of the Congress.
State Congress spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said:”We stand better chances during the Assembly polls as the party candidates have secured lead in at least 10 Assembly constituencies despite polarisation in the recent Lok Saba elections.’’
The elections in the state will be likely held by the end of this year as the term of the incumbent government expires on January 4, 2015.