By roping in 15 political figures, including retired officials, the Congress has cashed in on the political ambitions of its opponents to overcome the Modi factor. Parliamentary elections are scheduled in April next and assembly polls in November 2014.
The Congress had won both parliamentary seats from the Jammu division in alliance with the National Conference. The state has six parliamentary seats. The BJP, which got 11 seats in the last assembly, riding on public sentiment of the Amarnath land row, had lost its chances of reckoning after seven MLAs were expelled from the party. But with Narendra Modi anointed party’s prime ministerial candidate, it has rejuvenated the cadre.
Even chief minister Omar Abdullah in an interview with HT had recently said it would be wrong to ignore the Modi factor.
The Congress is hoping to emerge as the single largest party in the assembly elections. It was sure till now but signs of worry started to creep in when Modi took the centre stage.
The party believes that if parliamentary elections are held before assembly polls, which is in all likelihood is going to happen, reverses suffered here coupled with the BJP coming to the Centre, would entirely change the political spectrum.
The party, by roping in leaders from both NC and PDP, had tried to send the message that people are gravitating around it. In the process, it has hit People’s Democratic Party (PDP) more than its coalition partner National Conference.
Of 15 people who had joined the Congress, Master Tasaduq Hussain and Balbir Singh (both from PDP) carry some substantial weight, especially Tassaduq Hussain, who was also very close to Mufti and had lost last assembly elections with just few hundred votes. Though Master was politically inactive for quite some time.
He along with Balbir and also Murtaza Khan (ex-MLC) were hopeful of getting party mandate for MLC seat. But party patron and former chief minister Mufti Sayeed didn’t favour them.
Interestingly, the PDP had planned to give Balbir the MP ticket from Udhampur-Doda constituency and
it’s for this reason he has denied reports about joining Congress, though he had not officially issued any statement.
Tasaduq along with Murtaza and a panchayat member are likely to make it difficult for PDP candidate Yashpal Sharma in Poonch and Rajouri segment. Congress MP Madan Lal, who is likely to get mandate again, had last time got huge support here and this time he needs more as in Jammu and its adjoining district the Modi factor can swing votes away from him.
From NC, no one with political standing had joined the Congress. Aslam Goni, a former confidant of Farooq Abdullah, doesn’t have much on the ground. He has though only limited base in Bhaderwah, which is home constituency of Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The Congress knows that parliamentary elections will be semi-final as far as state politics is concerned and if it makes good show, despite the Modi factor, it will put both NC and PDP on defensive. The Congress knows it clearly that it can’t form government on its own and a defensive coalition partner will suit its game plan.
“Even if the NC and Congress contest parliamentary elections in alliance, the cadre will not support each other as they know that a good result of opponent will put him or her party in bad light. Party knows it and it’s for this reason it has expanded its fold to give it a cushion of political stability,” said a senior Congress leader.