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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

PDP keeps post-poll alliance window open for Congress

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, July 06, 2014
First Published: 11:14 IST(6/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:22 IST(6/7/2014)

On the brink of losing the kingmaker’s role in the state, the Congress may have decided to contest the assembly elections without any pre-poll alliance but it is busy reaching out to once estranged coalition partner People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has bounced back in the parliamentary elections.

The Congress already held two top-level meetings to create “conducive atmosphere” — one between Ghulam Nabi Azad and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti in Delhi and another between Azad and PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in the last week of June.

In Srinagar, Azad, whose party is still in coalition with the ruling National Conference (NC) of Omar Abdullah, visited Sayeed’s official residence in Srinagar, which is a few metres away from the chief minister’s residence.

Azad’s visit failed to fructify into any pre-poll alliance with the PDP, which pulled the rugs out of the Congress-PDP coalition government in 2008 following the Amarnath land row.

“The PDP is not in a position to go for any alliances before elections. We will get majority this time,” said a senior PDP leader on the condition of anonymity.

During the parliamentary elections, where the PDP won all the three seats from Kashmir Valley, the party was leading from 41 assembly segments out of 87. The Congress has come down from 16 to 10 and the NC from 28 to six.

“Any pre-poll alliance will impact the image of the PDP. It is like inviting all the negativity of the NC-Congress earned in the last six years. Unfortunately, the Congress stood by Omar in all misdeeds and misgovernance,” the PDP leader said.

Azad seems to have failed to pull out a last concession for the Congress in Jammu from the PDP: not to field a Muslim candidate against Azad to the advantage of the BJP, which is leading from 27 assembly segments after the parliamentary polls. The PDP recently announced Mehbooba Iqbal as its candidate from Azad’s home constituency Bhaderwah.

However, the PDP has kept post-poll alliance option open for the Congress. “In post-poll scenario, an alliance may be possible with the Congress as the PDP would like to take representatives from Jammu along in its government formation,” the PDP leader said.

The recent stinging remark of Azad at the Omar Abdullah government on the 2010 deaths and Congress in-charge of Kashmir affairs Ambika Soni’s announcement to contest alone from a majority of seats in Jammu and Kashmir has capped any change of pre-poll alliance between the NC and the Congress.

Meanwhile, sources said the Congress and NC’s top and influential leaders, Omar and Rahul Gandhi, are still toying with the idea of a joint front for the upcoming polls due in October this year.

However, file and rank of both the parties oppose the idea of any alliance between the two, which cost them heavily on the ground.

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