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Cong, NC to contest 3 seats each in J-K, Ladakh

April 08, 2024 21:53 IST

The Congress and the National Conference on Monday announced they will fight the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, in alliance, with both parties contesting three seats each.

IMAGE: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge with National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah. Photograph: ANI Photo

At a joint press conference in New Delhi alongside Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Pawan Khera, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said the Congress would contest Udhampur, Jammu and Ladakh Lok Sabha seats while the National Conference would field candidates in Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla.

The announcement comes a day after Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP) president named her party's candidates for three seats of the Kashmir Valley, signalling a breakdown of seat-sharing talks with the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) partners.


Asked about seat-sharing talks not succeeding with the PDP, the Congress' national alliance committee member Khurshid said the Mehbooba Mufti-led party is very much part of the INDIA bloc but seat-sharing with it could not be worked out.

Abdullah said, "I want to formally announce that the National Conference and Congress will jointly contest the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh with the two parties fielding candidates on three seats each."

"The National Conference will support Congress candidates in Udhampur, Jammu and Ladakh seats. The INDIA bloc will contest the polls to help fulfil the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh and truly represent them in Parliament," he said.

Responding to a query about the PDP, Khurshid said, "The PDP is in our alliance. Seat adjustment is one part of the alliance and an overall alliance is a different issue. Since Jammu and Kashmir is small in area, there is not much scope for seat adjustment despite our best efforts."

"The National Conference already has three Lok Sabha MPs and we have decided to give them a chance," he said.

On whether the Congress-NC alliance would be there for the assembly polls also, Abdullah said their focus right now was on succeeding in the Lok Sabha polls.

He said holding assembly polls has been virtually decided with the remarks of the Chief Election Commissioner and that of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the poll process would be completed before the Supreme Court-mandated date of September 30.

Abdullah also took a swipe at Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) president Ghulam Nabi Azad, saying he was directly helping the Bharatiya Janata Party.

He also wondered why Azad, who hails from Doda, was contesting from Anantnag.

On claims that Azad has said that he has not decided on where he would contest, Abdullah said his remarks would appear to be 'dishonest' as his party has made announcements about the seats.

"If he is not contesting, it would suggest that the BJP has calculated that him contesting from (Anantnag) would be detrimental to their chances," Abdullah said.

"Either way, it is shaping up to be an interesting election and the BJP is pulling out all the stops in Kashmir to bring various parties on a single platform. The visuals of the BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh coming out of Altaf Bukhari's residence in Srinagar make it obvious what the BJP and its allies are going to do there. Our interest as allies is that the BJP's plans fail entirely in all six seats," the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.

He exuded confidence that the situation was in the favour of the INDIA bloc in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh and the opposition alliance would win all six seats.

Abdullah also dismissed Prime Minister Modi's claim of the BJP winning 370 seats and NDA 400 in the Lok Sabha polls, saying it shows that he is 'rattled'.

The PDP has named candidates for three seats in Kashmir, fielding Mehbooba Mufti against Ghulam Nabi Azad in Anantnag.

The Congress has named Lal Singh as its candidate from Udhampur to take on Union Minister Jitendra Singh.

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