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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

J&K big three to fight assembly polls alone

Peerzada Ashiq  Srinagar, June 22, 2014
First Published: 18:24 IST(22/6/2014) | Last Updated: 21:45 IST(22/6/2014)

It’s official now that all the three major parties --- National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress --- will contest the upcoming assembly polls without forging any alliances.
 
The last ditch effort by the Congress to reach out to once estranged coalition partner PDP, which was leading from 41 assembly segments in the recently concluded parliament polls, has failed to yield desired results.
 
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday met PDP’s patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed at his Gupkar residence.
 
Though both the parties are tight-lipped about the meeting, sources said Azad wanted to create conducive atmosphere for a joint strategy for the assembly polls, which is due in October-November later this year.
 
Two-hour long high-level meeting between the PDP and Congress leaders comes six years after the two parted ways in 2008, following the Amarnath land controversy.
 
Sources said the PDP has turned down the offer of holding any pre-poll alliance but kept options open saying “a decision on forging any alliance will come only after the assembly poll results”.
 
The PDP, which has made inroads into Jammu region where the BJP has an upper hand for now, may create hurdles for the Congress to win assembly seats if it fields candidates from Muslim-majority pockets. Azad reportedly raised this issue too.
 
Azad’s meeting with Mufti reflects the desperation of the party to regain its footing in the state where it failed to win a single parliament seat.
 
Besides, the Congress, according to the parliamentary polls results, is leading only from 10 seats, six down from 18 seats in assembly polls.
 
Azad’s meeting also caps the chances of the Congress striking a coalition with ruling NC, which held a meeting on June 16 where leaders expressed dissatisfaction with the pre-poll alliance with the Congress.
 
The Congress is now planning to field own candidates from the Kashmir valley, where it fought the parliamentary polls together with the NC and received a drubbing.
 
The coalition performed badly amid the reports of cross voting by the party cadre and at places many abstaining from casting votes in favour of coalition candidates.
 
The Congress is likely to field own candidates from the Kashmir valley. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saif-ud-Din Soz said, “Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi would take the final decision on a pre-poll alliance.”
 
Soz, who also left for Delhi along with Azad, may finalise the list of candidates with the party high command.
 
“I met Azad sahib and discussed the party matters relating to mandates for the Legislative  Assembly polls scheduled later this year and whether the party should go for a pre-poll alliance with NC or not,” said Soz.

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