NC-Cong may join hands for Lok Sabha by-poll

NC-Cong may join hands for Lok Sabha by-poll

Srinagar: Hectic deliberations are on within pro-India parties to cobble up a pre-poll alliance and nominate candidates for the upcoming parliamentary by-polls scheduled in April.
The opposition National Conference and Congress are likely to stitch a pre-poll alliance while the ruling coalition of the PDP and BJP will jointly contest the polls, sources told Kashmir Reader.
NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said that his party is yet to nominate candidates and would finalise the names in a core group meeting in a day or two.
“We have also come to know through newspapers that the Congress is open to an alliance with us. We will discuss that in the meeting,” Sagar said.
It is learnt that names of three NC leaders are in contention for the Srinagar constituency, which goes to polls on April 9. These names are: NC partron Farooq Abdullah, his brother Mustafa Kamal, and former finance minister Raheem Rather.
The NC is still looking for a strong candidate for the Anantnag seat, as its former parliamentarian Mehboob Beg deserted the party and joined the PDP in 2014. Sources said that senior party leader Sakina Itoo, who is also the daughter of former JK assembly speaker, the late Wali Mohammad Itoo, may be fielded from there. The NC has a strong base in Srinagar, but it is on weak ground in Anantnag. The reverse is the case with the Congress, which has an edge in Anantnag but lags in Srinagar. Given the disadvantages of both parties in the two constituencies, they are expected to join hands.
State Congress president GA Mir said that the party had already held a meeting of its senior leaders to discuss the names of probable candidates and whether to enter into an alliance or not.
“After discussion, we have given full authority to the high command to decide whether to enter into alliance with other parties or not. The high command will also choose the candidates,” Mir said. “We have no information yet on whether the high command has opened channels of talks with other parties.”
The Congress is deliberating on fielding GA Mir in Anantnag and Tariq Hamid Karra in Srinagar, party sources said.
Karra, a founder member of the PDP, resigned from the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in September last year in protest against the government’s repression of the 2016 uprising.
The PDP will field its own candidates in both the constituencies. Its coalition partner BJP, which is non-existent in the Valley, will only lend support.
PDP general secretary Nizamudin Bhat said that the party has not decided its candidates. “We are holding a meeting of our political affairs committee on Monday at the residence of the chief minister. Once the meeting is over, we will be in a position to tell something,” Bhat said.
Sources in the PDP said that the names of Nazir Khan and Qazi Mohammad Afzal are being discussed for the Srinagar constituency. Nazir Khan is the son of former Congress leader Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan, a long-time associate of the late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. He has been in active politics for the past two decades. Qazi Mohammad Afzal is a former PDP minister and has twice lost elections from the Ganderbal constituency.
For Anantnag, sources said, the PDP is discussing the names of Sartaj Madni, Mehboob Beg and Tasaduq Mufti. However, sources said, Tasaduq, brother of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, has refused to contest. Madni, the maternal uncle of the chief minister, is the vice-president of PDP while Beg is the party spokesman.
In June 2016, the Anantnag constituency fell vacant following the resignation of Mehbooba Mufti as Member of Parliament. After being sworn in as chief minister, Mufti contested state assembly elections from Anantnag assembly constituency and won last year. The seat was earlier held by her late father and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

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