SPECIAL REPORTDefeat is inevitable and, therefore, the Congress High Command has come up with a unique offer of any of its leaders, accepting the mandate for Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat, getting ticket for assembly elections assured even if facing worst kind of electoral drubbing. The Congress High Command appears to be inspired by promotional slogan of ‘Buy one, get one free’.
BUY ONE GET ONE FREE
However, despite such a lucrative offer, nobody in the Congress-from Madan Lal Sharma to Tara Chand and from Sham Lal Sharma to Raman Bhalla-seems to be inclined to plunge into the parliamentary election arena due to obtaining mood across the Jammu division. Getting blessed to have a candidate like Vikramaditya Singh, elder son of veteran party leader Dr Karan Singh and scion of the Dogra dynasty, for the prestigious Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat, the Congress is struggling to find someone for the Jammu-Poonch seat as nobody is willing to contest. This is shocking for the Congress, which till now used to have beeline of aspirants even before the announcement of the schedule but with the last date for filing the papers coming closer, the known faces are taking one or the other excuse. If grapevine is to be believed the top leaders are taking excuse of ‘ill-health’ in order to be recused from contesting the Lok Sabha elections. This is a piquant situation for the High Command, which is currently in a panic mode, especially as the possible ally National Conference has made it known that they will not compromise any of the three Valley seats. In fact, the National Conference has informally announced its candidates for the Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag seats ahead of the seat-sharing meeting between Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad likely on Wednesday. With National Conference pre-empting, the Congress will be left with no choice but to accept two seats of Jammu and Udhampur. The National Conference will leave the Ladakh seat for negotiations to assert its ‘big-brother’ position. Prior to announcement of National Conference candidates for the three Valley constituencies, the Congress was taking solace in the former fielding former Chief Secretary B R Kundal for the Jammu seat, who had recently resigned and joined the National Conference with its president announcing his candidature. But the scenario has changed now. Now that the Congress is likely to stitch alliance with National Conference, the party leadership is facing an uphill task to convince someone to take up the candidature for Jammu Lok Sabha seat. Apart from the diminishing prospect of victory, the Pradesh Congress leadership is suffering from acute factionalism. After announcement of Azad as poll manager for the State, senior Congress leaders are further alienated as they are not seeing eye in eye with the former minister and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. The Congress leaders have made their annoyance known for Azad more than once. Factionalism within the Congress being primary reason for disinterest among Jammu leaders, the bonhomie with National Conference and PDP has emerged as yet another irritant for them. The PDP has unilaterally announced its unconditional support for the Congress in the two Jammu seats to, what they have been saying; defeat the ‘divisive’ BJP. The pro-separatist and pro-terrorist stance taken by the PDP and the NC is not acceptable to Jammu Congress leaders, who don’t want to be seen on the other side of ‘nationalism’ ahead of the assembly elections.
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