In a huge shock the Congress party on Sunday announced that it would contest the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly elections, scheduled for November, on their own.
At a press conference held in Jammu, the senior Congress leaders announced the party’s decision to end its six year alliance with the National Conference, headed by Farooq Abdullah.
Former union health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and state Congress president, Saif-ud-din Soz said the party would field candidates in all the 87 seats in the state without any pre-poll alliance.
“After extensive talks with Congress leaders and workers at all levels, the party has come to the conclusion that we are going to fight the forthcoming assembly elections on our own strength”, Soni, general secretary, All India Congress Committee and in-charge of J&K Congress, told reporters. “We will put up candidates or support some of the traditional alliance candidates on all the 87 seats in J&K alone,” she said.
Soni, who was flanked by Azad and JKPCC chief Soz, said, “Most of the workers and leaders of Congress wanted us to go alone in elections.” She added, “The votes in Lok Sabha elections were not transferred to each other resulting in the debacle. There was not much of help that came from our alliance partner in previous elections.”
Azad said the party wants to emerge as the single largest party in the state and it will focus on completing pending projects in the state.
The two parties had entered into a coalition after the 2008 assembly polls in the state and formed the government with Omar Abdullah as the chief minister in 2009.
However, minutes after the announcement was made, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to announce that it was not the Congress that had asked for the split and, in reality, the other way round.
“I met Mrs Gandhi 10 days ago and thanked her for all her support. I conveyed NC’s decision to fight the elections alone,” Omar said on Twitter, adding, “I explained the reasons but also told her I wouldn’t be making a public announcement because I didn't want it to look opportunistic.”
He later added that it was wrong to report that the Congress had demanded for a split and a complete distortion of the facts.
The Congress’s decision to contest the assembly elections alone has sparked hope of a better showing than the LS polls among the younger leaders of the party. “I welcome the decision of the Congress party to contest the J&K election on its own. This respects the sentiments of our workers,” said Salman Soz.
-- With inputs from PTI.