Sunday 14 April 2013

Future electoral alliances finally ruled out in Kashmir? (Kashmir Newsletter)

Srinagar, April 13  (IANS) Despite past assertions by its leaders that the regional National Conference (NC) and the Congress would fight the 2014 assembly elections in  alliance, the NC has finally decided to fight both the state and parliamentary  polls on its own.
After its recent  central working committee (CWC) meeting, NC leaders have come out more vocally  against the local Congress leadership, indicating that the NC has now revised its poll strategy for the future.
Senior NC leader and legislator Mustafa Kamal has challenged state Congress  president Saif-ud-Din Soz to prove his contention that the Congress would get a majority on its own in the assembly elections.
"Let him prove his  statement,", Kamal told reporters. Although Kamal  has been known for his anti-Congress statements in the past, NC sources this time suggest he has been stating what appears to have been the consensus arrived at the CWC meet.
Another senior NC leader, who did not want to be named, said contesting in alliance with the Congress would go against the party's stand on various issues.
"We stand for the  repeal of the armed forces special powers act (AFSPA). We stand for restoration  of autonomy to the state, we stand for the return of Afzal Guru's body to his  family. We have publicly stated that Afzal did not get a fair  trial.
"These things  would not go down well with the voters if we were to fight the elections in  alliance with the Congress", the NC leader said.
Of all the senior NC leaders, the party patron and union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq  Abdullah is still believed to be in favour of some sort of a broad-based electoral understanding with the Congress.
"But, given the  general mood in the CWC, Dr. Abdullah has chosen not to make his desire public so far. This could be because he also believes in his heart of hearts that the  NC might stand to lose if it decides to run an electoral alliance with the  Congress", sources close to the NC patron said  here.
Interestingly, seeing the NC backtrack on its desire to fight the elections in alliance with the Congress, the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) also announced it would not ally with the Congress.
Addressing a media  conference in summer capital Srinagar on Wednesday, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti  said the PDP was not looking forward to an electoral alliance with the Congress  even if the NC parted ways with the party.
The PDP leadership  has been in the forefront of opposing the policies and programmes of the ruling  NC during the last five years it has been in the opposition although its criticism against the Congress has always been  muted.
"That is perhaps  because the PDP does not want to completely shut its doors on the possibility of  aligning with the Congress after the 2014 elections if that becomes necessary to  keep the NC out of power", said a middle rung NC leader  here.
Whatever the  future electoral permutations and combinations, one thing can be said with a  fair measure of certainty: none of the three parties, the NC, the Congress or  the PDP seriously believes it can get an absolute majority on its own in the  87-member assembly in the elections.

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