Jammu: Gearing up for the upcoming political battles, the J&K unit of Congress has told the All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi that any pre-poll arrangement for the Parliament or Assembly elections in the State would shrink the party’s space and the High Command should allow the party to “go alone for the polls.”
A high-level delegation led by State Congress chief Prof Saifuddin Soz met Rahul and put forth its views on any pre-poll alliance ahead of Parliamentary or Assembly polls. The delegation comprised senior Congress leaders from Kashmir and Jammu, including district presidents.
Congress delegation met Rahul and discussed issues related to pre-poll alliance. “I didn’t speak on the occasion but many party leaders spoke and put forth their views about the issue (pre-poll alliance),” Soz said.
Senior Congress leader and former minister Abdul Gani Vakil, pressed that Congress should “no more be a B-team in future.” “Firstly, majority of the party-men demanded that there should be no alliance and that Congress should be strengthened in all three regions of the State. They made it clear that the party is in dire need of having its own MPs and more legislators from Kashmir,” said Vakil. “He told Rahul Ji that Congress should not surrender Kashmir at any cost, be it in Parliament or Assembly elections.
I personally believe that Congress means India in Kashmir. There should be no pressure to surrender seats in the name of alliance.”
Among others who were part of the Congress delegation includes Senior Congress Leader and MLA Inderwal G M Saroori, former minister Mula Ram, Congress MP Madan Lal Sharma, and district presidents from Kashmir and Jammu region.
Congress leaders urged the AICC vice-president that the party high command should “allow the J&K unit to go alone in both Parliament and Assembly elections.”
“The Congress leaders informed that over the past five years of NC-Congress rule in J&K, Congress workers have bore the brunt of discrimination on all fronts. NC ministers always entertained their own workers, be it giving government jobs to youth, allotting tenders, or giving contracts,” Congress leaders told Rahul.
Congress district president for Ananatnag (Islamabad) Gulzar Wani demanded party’s share in Kashmir. “Congress leaders told Rahul Ji in clear terms that if they want to see party vibrant and strong in Kashmir, they have to keep the flock together by giving Congress men a right to contest in both Parliament and Assembly polls. He said his personal opinion is that we should have at least one or two MPs in Lok Sabha from Kashmir region,” said Wani. “That is only possible when we will contest on our own.”
The party’s district president for Srinagar, Abdul Gani Khan said the meeting was fruitful. “It lasted for about 20 minutes. Leaders explained our stand by stating that high command should give a go-ahead to its J&K unit to fight both Parliament and Assembly elections separately,” he said. “They briefed AICC vice president about how party has suffered for being in coalition for five years. Kashmir remained the prime focus of the meet.”
Congress leader urged the AICC vice president to ensure that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Soz address election rallies together in Jammu. “I told the meeting that if this would happen, it will fetch Congress at least 35 seats in J&K,”.
They also stressed that there should be post-poll arrangement in both Parliament and Assembly elections slated this year. “They told if any pre-poll arrangement would shrink party’s space in Kashmir. The Congress leaders also requested Rahul to keep a close watch on elections in J&K and make sure there is no rigging,”
Pertinently this is the first exercise by the Congress high command where Rahul has started a direct contact with the party’s grassroots workers. “That’s why he preferred to listen more from district presidents rather than senior leaders.
Interestingly, Congress has not announced its candidates for the upcoming Parliament elections scheduled to be held in April-May this year. “The issue will be sorted after high command will make its decision public on alliance.
What remains to be seen is whethesr the party high command would go with workers’ opinion or impose its own decision,” a Congress leader said.