Congress Says No Pre-Poll Alliance Decision Yet

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SRINAGAR – A day after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah hinted there was a possibility of a third-front formation at the Centre, Union Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad today ruled it out, saying such moves had failed in the past. He also played safe over the pre-poll alliance in J&K stating there was enough time left for the elections and that the Congress would contest polls with full strength.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function at Directorate of Health Services here, he said, “No decision regarding forming a pre-poll alliance has been taken yet. Right now a coalition government is in power. Different members within Congress and National Conference may have different opinions about the possibility of a pre-poll alliance but the decision will be taken at the right time,” he said.

Azad welcomed the decision of Janata Dal United (JDU) to snap its seventeen year old ties with the BJP-led NDA over the elevation of Modi as the party’s chief poll campaigner.

“What Nitish Kumar should have done fifteen years back he did it now, but after fifteen years he felt that with BJP he cannot move forward. I know him very well. He is a very secular person and we welcome his decision,” said Azad.    

Asked whether the Congress would approach Nitish’s  party to bring it into the UPA fold, Azad said nothing of that sort was on the cards at the moment.

On the possibility of formation of a third-front, Azad said, “We have seen a third-front in the past. Such efforts have failed to survive and Congress is the only secular party that will survive,” claimed Azad.

He said Narendra Modi’s elevation had strengthened Congress party and had divided the BJP.   

On the reshuffle in the Union Cabinet, Azad said he had proposed at the Jaipur session of the AICC that ministers should not hold posts like General Secretary and Pradesh Congress Committee Chiefs a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

“While the ministers have a job to do in continuing the good work on development front, the party office bearers also have to work towards strengthening the party,” he said while referring to resignation of C P Joshi and Ajay Maken from the Union cabinet.

“Congress does not take decisions watching others. We follow our own policies and the latest reshuffle is the outcome of that,” he said.

Azad, responding to a question about Prime Minister’s forthcoming Kashmir visit, said, “PM Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, are scheduled to visit the Valley on 25th of June. They are visiting Uri and Kishtwar and will inaugurate a railway link between Qazigund and Banihal.”

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