Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday though dubbed the National Conference-Congress alliance's victory in the MLC elections as "extraordinary", said the real test for the two parties lied in the 2014 assembly elections, which he once again indicated would be contested by the two parties together.
"Your real test will be in 2014. You have to show the same spirit and determination during the assembly elections," Omar said while addressing panches, sarpanches and winning candidates who called on him at his residence after the result.
Omar had earlier also said both parties could contest the assembly elections jointly, though the senior leadership of both the NC and Congress had expressed reservations. "Your victory is an appropriate reply to those (PDP leadership) who said the coalition was ineffective and not cohesive at the lower level," he said.
The PDP had accused the National Conference of failing to empower panchayats and of in-effective governance. Omar said the PDP leadership tried to create confusion among panches and sarpanches, and launched "malicious propaganda" against the state government, especially the NC. "But results have proved they have failed miserably."
Omar, however, asked party workers not to be complacent after the victory: "Work hard and remain closely associated with each other and the people in every area and at all levels."
The chief minister said workers of the two parties had to further strengthen the coalition. The chief minister promised of transferring funds, functions and functionaries to panchayat institutions. He said the coalition government would fulfill its "commitment for a powerful and effective three-tier panchayat raj in the state".
He credited Congress state president Saif-ud-Din Soz and union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for ensuring the "extraordinary victory" of coalition candidates in the election to council seats. He said he and Soz jointly addressed rallies of panches and sarpanches across the state.
Cabinet ministers Surjeet Singh Slathia, Abdul Gani Malik, Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla and political advisor to the CM Devender Singh Rana were also present on the occasion.