After hectic deliberations, the Congress and the regional National Conference (NC) Wednesday announced a seat-sharing pact for the three Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir but will have “friendly fights” in three places – Baramulla, Anantnag and Ladakh.
The joint announcement was made by the Congress Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and NC president Farooq Abdullah. “It (alliance) was done in the national interest, to strengthen secular forces in Jammu and Kashmir as the state faces threat from Pakistan,” Azad told reporters in Jammu after the meeting.
Abdullah said the Congress will contest from Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats. “I will contest from Srinagar and there will be a friendly contest between National Conference and Congress in Anantnag, Baramulla and Ladakh parliamentary constituencies,” he said.
Elaborating, Azad said that ‘friendly contest’ means that there will be no cut-throat contest between the parties on Anantnag, Baramulla and Ladakh seats. “Live and let live. This is the best decision taken in national interest. If either the Congress or National Conference wins, it is a win-win situation for both,” he said.
After the deadlock over the alliance continued, the Congress high command came into action and deputed Azad led team to Jammu to hold talks with Abdullah. Anantnag Lok Sabha seat had been a bone of contention between the NC and Congress.
The NC vice president Omar Abdullah had set a precondition to contest all three seats in Kashmir for any alliance to take place. In exchange, NC was willing to support Congress in the two seats in Jammu and one in Ladakh. However, Congress had insisted on contesting from four seats, two from the Jammu region, one from Ladakh and from Anantnag.
On Tuesday, the NC announced Justice (retrd) Hassnain Masoodi as its candidate from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. Masoodi, in October 2015, had ruled that Article 370, granting special status to the state, is permanent.
“Article 370 though titled as 'Temporary Provision' and included in Para XXI titled 'Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions' has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution," a division bench of justices Masoodi and Janak Raj Kotwal had ruled.
“It is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as Constituent Assembly of the State before its dissolution did not recommend its Amendment or repeal,” the bench had added.
The NC and Congress had contested three seats each in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and both the parties had drawn blank with BJP and PDP winning three each. NC had contested all three seats of Kashmir Valley and Congress two seats of Jammu region and one from Ladakh.