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Cong, NC finalise alliance for LS poll in J&K

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Cong gets 2, NC 1; “friendly contest” on 3 seats

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Jammu, Mar 20: Finalizing an alliance after days of hectic parleys, the Congress and National Conference Wednesday announced they will fight two and one Lok Sabha seats respectively, while agreeing on a "friendly contest" on the remaining three constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a joint press conference here, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and NC patron Dr. Farooq Abdullah told the media that while the Congress will contest on the Jammu and Udhampur seats, the National Conference will fight from Srinagar.

There will be a "friendly contest" between the two parties on the Baramulla, Anantang and Ladakh seats, Abdullah said.

He said that NC will contest all the three seats of the Valley -- Baramulla, Srinagar, Anantnag and Ladakh. However, the party will not field its candidates in Jammu and Udhampur seats to ensure that the secular votes are not divided.

Ghulam Nabi Azad declared that keeping in view the stature of Dr Farooq Abdullah in the national and the state politics, the Congress will not field its candidate against him from Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

He also lauded the “crucial role” being played by Dr Abdullah in the national politics in strengthening secular forces and isolating the divisive parties, which pose grave threat to the unity of the country.

He said the nation has been hugely heeding to the advice of the “towering” NC leader which was greatly witnessed during the Opposition conclaves in various parts of the country including Kolkatta.

While stressing the need for strengthening inclusive ethos of the nation, Abdullah advised the Congress to stitch alliance with the like-minded parties elsewhere in the country in order to meeting the challenge posed by divisive and communal forces. He said the nation is passing through a difficult phase and there was urgent need to unite and foil the machinations of the inimical forces.

State Congress chief Gulam Ahmed Mir and AICC general secretary Ambika Soni were also present.

The state sends six Lok Sabha MPs.

Azad said, "Friendly contest means that we will not go hard against each other and at the same time will make a joint effort to defeat the opponents. Whether they (NC) win or we, it will make no difference because the (seats) will add to the national kitty."

Had the two parties entered the fray separately in Jammu, Azad said, it would have benefited the BJP. "And in Kashmir, if we fought separately, it is difficult to transfer votes."

He said, "We have some MLAs in Anantnag and Baramulla and (by friendly contest) we will be able to maintain our turf. Our fight will be a joint effort to defeat the opponent."

"The alliance has been finalised in national interest and will strengthen the secular forces in J&K as the state faces threat from Pakistan," Azad told reporters.

"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.

Azad said the tie-up will ensure there is no division of secular votes and BJP is not benefited.

He said all Congress leaders will also campaign for Abdullah on the Srinagar Parliamentary seat, which he currently represents.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir BJP alleged the Congress conceded to the NC’s “pro-separatist agenda”.

Azad said they were not working for BJP. "We have an alliance with like-minded parties at five or six places, it (BJP) has alliance at over 40 places."

On the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's criticism of dynastic politics, Azad said, "The one who had no family what will he do?

Abdullah also rejected the dynastic barb, saying nobody can come to power if people don't vote for them.

"They are creating this fuss because they have no other issue. If an actor, a doctor, a film director, and others put forward their son in the same field, nobody raises dynastic thing. I am Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's son and have seen politics form my childhood and faced problem.

"Jawaharlal Nehru's daughter (India Gandhi) gave atom bomb to the nation to make it strong. She gave her blood for the nation and her son," Abdullah said.

Azad said the BJP government is the most "corrupt and scandalous" in the entire world.

"I have said this in presence of Modi in the house. You are not allowing inquiry wherefrom the information will come to the fore," he said.

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