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Will NC stick to bruised, battered Congress in 2014? (Kashmir Newsletter)

By Sheikh Qayoom, Jammu, Dec 13 : Has Jammu and Kashmir's National Conference (NC) already started looking for new allies following the Congress rout in the state assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?


Is knowing that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, triggering the party's hunting for greener pastures? Recent statements and actions of the party's top brass are indicative.

NC patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah announced his party's candidates for all the three Lok Sabha seats from the valley on Dec 5, barely three days before the votes for the assemblies of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were taken up for counting.

Abdullah made the announcement on the birth anniversary of his father and NC founder, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, in Srinagar despite Congress insiders telling IANS that the NC's coalition partner wanted to field its candidate for at least one of the three seats.

History seems to be repeating itself for the NC this time again.

When Indira Gandhi lost her Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in 1977, Sheikh Abdullah ruled the state with Congress support. Following her defeat, he had started issuing statements against the Congress. This angered Gandhi and the state unit of the party and the Congress withdrew its support, making the government fall.

In a veiled dig at Rahul Gandhi, Abdullah's son and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, otherwise believed to be a good friend of the Congress vice president, once tweeted that poor attendance at one's political rallies definitely indicates trouble while large attendance does not necessarily mean this would be converted into votes.

While Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rally in Jammu on Dec 1 was attended by a large number of people, that of Rahul Gandhi here on Nov 6 had less of a crowd.

On the other hand, Omar Abdullah's uncle and senior NC leader Mustafa Kamal seems to have perfected Congress bashing into some sort of a martial art.

Kamal never loses an opportunity to lambast the Congress for all the woes of the state including corruption, administrative inertia, political uncertainty and even the alarming levels of pollution in Kashmir's lakes and rivers!

Whether or not the ruling coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir would fight the 2014 Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in alliance now remains more uncertain than it ever was in recent past.

The NC might not like to commit itself to alliance with a party that has been facing a serious leadership crisis at the national level.

Meanwhile, the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) has been relishing the confusion and uncertainty in its arch rival, the NC.

The NC has been blaming the PDP for having some sort of tacit understanding with Modi and the BJP, but it hits back, saying it was Omar Abdullah who had been a member of the NDA's ministerial team and not anyone from the PDP in the past.

What needs to be keenly watched in 2104 is whether the NC once again tries to play the "traditional martyr" by distancing itself from the centre by hyping the "unending betrayals from New Delhi" or sticks to a badly bruised and battered political ally of the past.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul@ians.in )

--IANS (Posted on 13-12-2013)

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