The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have drifted apart ever since they came together dramatically as part of a grand alliance with Congress to stake claim to government formation in November last. The alliance was largely occasioned by the desperate need to keep the then BJP-backed Sajad Lone from taking over as the Chief Minister by drawing on the support from the rebel members of the NC and PDP. By doing this the parties turned the tables on the BJP-led efforts to form a government of its choice.
The parties let it be known that they are coming together to protect the special status of J&K, Article 370 and 35A. Such a position certainly played well with the people. More so, when the case against Article 35A is at an advanced stage in the Supreme Court. However, the Governor Satya Pal Malik’s sudden dissolution of the Assembly put paid to the efforts of the grand alliance to form a government.
The situation has drastically transformed ever since. The NC and the PDP have again turned strangers. In fact, the bitterness between the two has only deepened. The NC has rejected the PDP overtures for a broader alliance and perhaps rightly so. The PDP’s disastrous coalition government with the BJP has damaged its political standing in the Kashmir Valley to an extent that no party would like to ally with it. The NC is conscious of this fact. There is a legitimate fear that doing so would be also detrimental to the electoral chances of the NC. So, Dr Farooq Abdullah has, instead, chosen to ally with the Congress.
On March 20 Congress and National Conference decided to come together by entering into a seat-sharing pact in J&K’s six Lok Sabha seats. According to the arrangement, Congress will field candidates in two parliamentary seats of Jammu. Dr Farooq Abdullah will contest from Srinagar parliamentary seat in the Kashmir Valley. Interestingly, the parties will have friendly contests in three places — Baramulla, Anantnag and Ladakh constituencies of Kashmir. This has been done to prevent the secular vote from splitting which would have been to the advantage of the BJP.
But considering the dire state of affairs the J&K is in with its special constitutionally status under a relentless assault by the BJP-led NDA government at the centre, it would have been great if the opposition had formed a common front – if not for the Lok Sabha polls, then certainly for the Assembly election. More so, if the BJP returns to power at the centre. However, it is still not too late. Such a mahagathbandan can still be formed for the Assembly polls. And it is important that it is formed so that a government that is representative of the sentiment and aspirations of the people is formed which can better defend the state against an assault on its identity and the constitutional status.