The National Conference (NC) and the Congress, ruling partners in Jammu and Kashmir, have forged an electoral alliance for the Lok Sabha elections has well.
A formal announcement is likely on Saturday. While the NC will contest all three seats in the Kashmir Valley, the Congress will take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the two seats of Jammu and one of Ladakh.
Confirming the development, state Congress president Saifuddin Soz said the decision had come in a party high-command meeting in Delhi. "Yes, we have formed a pre-poll alliance," he added.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, union ministers Ambika Soni, former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmad Patel, and ML Fotedar were among the party leaders at the deciding meeting. The NC has announced its candidates for Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla seats already, while the Congress is yet to pick its candidates for the state. Party sources say the names will be out after formal announcement in New Delhi.
If the NC has repeated Dr Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar, Mehboob Beg from Anantnag, and Sharief Din Shariq from Baramulla in Kashmir, the Congress also is likely to repeat Madan Lal Sharma from Jammu and Chowdhary Lal Singh from Udhampur. In Ladakh, it will fight with the NC support.
That will split the state's six Lok Sabha seats equally between the alliance partners. While the NC wanted the alliance to counter the inroads that the People's Democratic Party (PDP) had made in Kashmir and the BJP in Jammu, a section of the Congress wanted to contest from the Valley as well.
"We should have gotten at least one seat in the Valley. The Jammu region contests seem difficult, as the BJP is very strong," said a source. The sources also said the state Congress wanted to contest two Jammu seats and Baramulla in Kashmir.