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NC, Congress join hands to contest Kashmir bypolls

Press Trust of India  |  Srinagar 

The and today decided to jointly contest the forthcoming bypolls in Jammu and Kashmir, in a bid to put up a "combined fight against the ruling PDP-coalition."

The main opposition parties of the state said (NC) president Farooq Abdullah will contest from constituency, while JKPCC chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir will face the bypoll from Anantnag.

"For the past few days, both the parties - NC and - conducted internal exercises and came to the conclusion that if we really want to defeat the candidates of the present in and Anantnag Parliamentary constituencies, the best thing to do is to fight the elections jointly.

"So we have decided that from constituency, we will put up an NC candidate and from Anantnag, a candidate," working president told reporters here.

He was flanked by Pradesh Committee (JKPCC) president Ghulam Ahmad Mir and other NC and leaders.

"We will try to put up a combined fight. All my colleagues from south Kashmir will work for Mir's success. Similarly, Mir has assured me that and its friends will make efforts to make Farooq successful by a huge majority," the former chief minister said.

The ruling PDP has fielded Mufti Tassaduq Hussain, cinematographer-turned-politician son of PDP founder late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, from Anantnag seat. The seat was vacated by Hussain's sister and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The party also announced that Nazir Ahmad Khan, who recently joined the PDP from Congress, would fight the by-polls from the prestigious seat.

While constituency will go to polls on April 9, polling in Anantnag seat will be held on April 12.

Anantnag seat fell vacant in June last after Mehbooba won the assembly bypolls, as required by law, to continue as the Chief Minister. The seat was vacated by former PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra, who had resigned last year in September in protest against alleged "brutalities" on Kashmir protesters.

Karra, who had won the election against Farooq, joined afterwards.

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Omar said the party felt that there was no better strategy in the present situation than to fight the polls jointly.

The JKPCC president said the party has taken a multi-layer feedback from the people "who also want that both the parties fight these elections jointly."

Asked whether the situation was suitable for electioneering, Omar said the political activity in south Kashmir faced more challenges.

"Both the parties have been carrying out low-level political meetings and activities cutting across the state. The fact that political activity in south Kashmir faces more challenges is a reality. The challenge in front of the Election Commission is to give us an environment that is suitable for electioneering and for the voters to come out and vote," he said.

The NC leader said it was the concern of both and his party that "a concerted effort is being now made on the part of the to discourage the opposition from being able to move out and campaign."

"Our security is being downgraded, bullet-proof vehicles of party functionaries are being withdrawn, escort vehicles are being taken away. Candidates, who contested elections as recently as 2014, are now being told to manage without a personal security officer (PSO) and I am talking about highly-threatened areas in districts of Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian," he alleged.

Omar said fighting the polls jointly was not a "compulsion but a strategy."

On announcing to fight the polls independently, the former chief minister said, "I cannot say what game they are playing and what their aim is. The should not think the people are foolish. If anyone thinks that their not fighting the polls together is a proof that they are not together, they are governing the state in a coalition.

First Published: Wed, March 15 2017. 14:57 IST