The National Conference is pushed to the corner in Kashmir with many of its workers joining the Congress in the presence of AICC general secretary in-charge of J&K, Ambika Soni, who visited Srinagar to give boost to party affairs at the grassroots and chalk out future strategy independent of any coalition. Sources said many more important NC leaders are expected to switch over to the grand old party soon, which has ruled out a pre-poll alliance with the state’s principal opposition party in the byelections. The Congress feels it hit its interest in the valley by having an alliance previously with the NC.
Congress has decided to field Hilal Ahmad Shah as its candidate from Anantnag Assembly segment, where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is also expected to contest. The Congress turned down NC’s request to support the latter’s candidate in Anantnag in order to give a united fight to the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president Ghulam Ahmad Mir and other senior leaders briefed Soni of how they were trying to embolden the party in Kashmir and Ladakh regions.
In order to keep their Jammu vote bank intact, J&K PCC has recently made it clear that they were against the use of force on the outstation students of NIT by J&K Police. Even Ambika Soni, while briefing the media in Srinagar, said the use of force was wrong. She demanded a fair and impartial judicial probe into the incident.
Congress is keen to play the pro-Jammu card in order to get back their voters. Congress leaders of Jammu have been in touch with West Pakistani refugees and migrant Kashmiri Pandits, both of whom are said to be feeling let down by the BJP-PDP combine which had promised to rehabilitate them. Congress leaders of Jammu are also in touch with displaced villagers from Samba and Kathua near the border and are trying to gain their confidence.