NC spares Ladakh seat for Cong, ‘officially’ finalise seat sharing for 6 Lok Sabha seats
Ladakh NC leaders ‘unhappy’; Akhoon says ‘will hold detailed discussions’; PDP ‘excluded’ from alliance
Arteev Sharma. Updated: 4/9/2024 12:26:53 AM

Jammu: Amid brewing resentment against the BJP in the country’s cold desert, the National Conference (NC) today formally announced to spare the lone Ladakh Lok Sabha seat for the Congress party after two parties declared contesting the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh in alliance, with each fielding candidates in three seats out of the six seats.
“I want to formally announce that the NC and Congress will jointly contest the elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh with three candidates for each of the two parties. The NC will support Congress candidates in Udhampur, Jammu, and Ladakh seats, while we will be contesting from Anantnag-Rajouri, Srinagar and Baramulla seats,” NC vice president Omar Abdullah said while addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi.
Omar, flanked by the Member of the Congress seat sharing committee Salman Khurshid and other senior leaders, said the INDIA bloc will contest the polls to help fulfill the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh and truly represent them in Parliament”.
Sources within NC revealed that the local unit of the party in Ladakh was “unhappy” with the decision to leave the lone Lok Sabha seat in the region for Congress.
“In October last year, we had emerged as the single largest party in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil by bagging 12 seats out of a total 17 on which it fielded its candidates while the Congress stood second with 10 seats. The party has a strong presence in Kargil district while it is gaining ground in Leh district as well,” a sulking NC leader in Kargil said declining to be named.
The leader further said, “The alliance arrangement will badly affect the party’s base in Ladakh, while Congress will surely get strengthened with this decision. For us, the Parliament is the only bigger platform to raise the genuine issues of the people of Ladakh which is the Union Territory without legislature”,
When contacted, the NC’s additional general secretary Qamar Ali Akhoon said, “At present, I am in Jammu. We will soon hold detailed discussions with the party workers and leaders (about their plans for the parliamentary election and extending support to Congress). We devise our strategy thereafter only”.
The alliance between Congress and NC—the key players in Ladakh politics--will surely mount the worries of the BJP which has been facing tough times in the region due to protests and hunger strikes launched by the people of Ladakh in favour of two major demands—Statehood to Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule.
The protestors had accused the BJP of betraying the people of Ladakh as the party had promised a “declaration of Ladakh under Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution (Tribal Area)” during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, Omar has already declared that his party (NC) would contest all three seats of Kashmir Valley, including the newly-carved Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary seat which is going to see the clash of political titans, with the former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti announcing to join the electoral fray from this seat. The NC has named veteran leader Mian Altaf Ahmad as the party’s candidate for Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat. The PDP, however, has named candidates for two remaining seats in Kashmir.
The seat-sharing agreement was finalised after consultations between the Congress and NC leaders in New Delhi today. The NC-Congress alliance has also made it clear that the PDP, which claimed to be part of the INDIA bloc, has been badly “ignored” and “overlooked”, notwithstanding Salman Khurshid, asserting that the “PDP is in our alliance. Seat adjustment is one part of the alliance and an overall alliance is a different issue”
To further substantiate his claims, Khurshid said, “Since Jammu and Kashmir is small in area, there is not much scope for seat adjustment despite our best efforts.”
Khurshid said, “The National Conference already has three Lok Sabha MPs and we have decided to give them a chance.” Asked if Omar Abdullah will also contest the polls, the Congress leader said in that case one would have to convene another press conference in Srinagar as and when a decision is taken.
The PDP spokesperson Firdous Tak, when contacted, said the PDP has a larger role to play in representing the genuine voices and aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We understand that this aspiration does not fit in the electoral scheme of our friends in the INDIA alliance. A perception has been created from Kashmir to New Delhi that the PDP is representing a hard stand and its commitment not to compromise with the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir may be a stumbling block for some people in the INDIA bloc,” he said.
He, however, said they are committed to the larger objectives of the alliance irrespective of the fact whether they are part of the alliance or out of it.

Updated On 4/9/2024 12:28:15 AM

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