The Congress would fight the year-end assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir on its own, with the party having decided to end its five-year-old alliance with the National Conference (NC) in the border state, sources told HT.
The decision to go it alone follows an internal assessment that a pre-poll alliance with the NC would prove “catastrophic” for the Congress and “badly hurt” its election prospects. Fresh from its worst-ever Lok Sabha performance, the Congress wouldn’t want another poll embarrassment.
Sources said there were two views within the party. An influential section wants an immediate end to the arrangement, arguing that the NC leadership had already made up its mind to snap ties before the polls are called. “They are just waiting for an opportune time. We should not give them the first-mover advantage,” a senior Congress leader said.
Another section, however, wants the Congress to wait for the assembly’s term to run out and fight the December polls alone. It wants the party to keep its post-poll options open -- renew partnership with the NC or go with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But state leaders are piling pressure on the Congress leadership. “Continuation of alliance with NC will spell doom for us. There is huge public anger against misgovernance and rampant corruption during NC-led government,” senior leader Abdul Ghani Vakil told HT. “It will adversely affect us as we will bear the brunt.”
Confirming the move, another senior central leader said the Congress was thinking of “getting rid” of the NC. “There is a complete disconnect between the masses and the NC leadership.”
Congress leaders say the party has been “generous enough” to give six years to the NC at the time of government formation in 2008-09 but it “failed” to deliver. Unlike other state assemblies, the Jammu and Kashmir legislature has a six-year term.
The Congress did not push for three-year power-sharing agreement with the NC as it had done with PDP in 2002. Both the PDP and Congress ruled the state for three years each.
“Instead of gratitude, they are blaming us for the defeat,” Vakil said.
A bitter war of words between the two partners erupted after the Lok Sabha elections in which the ruling coalition didn’t register a single win in the state’s six constituencies.