Srinagar: Seeking the peoples reaction through e-mails, convening brain-storming sessions with party colleagues and promising not to buckle under defeat are some of the steps being taken by the battered National Conference (NC) in its bid to bounce back.
NC president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said the defeat of the ruling Congress-NC alliance in all the six Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir has shocked him.
More worrisome than the NC-Congress combine candidates losing in the Lok Sabha election is the fact that out of the 46 assembly segments that constitute the voting segments for the three Lok Sabha seats of the Valley, the NC led in just seven.
In layman terms, the NC lost all but seven assembly segments to its arch rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The NC has a marginal lead in Amira Kadal, Habba Kadal, Khanyar, Gurez, Handwara, Pulwama and Uri assembly segments.
In the rest of the 39 assembly segments including those of the chief minister, his senior cabinet colleagues Abdul Rahim Rather, Mian Altaf Ahmad, Mir Saifullah, Sakina Itoo, Muhammad Akbar Lone and some other NC and Congress ministers and leaders, the PDP polled more votes than the NC-Congress combine.
For the last three days, Omar Abdullah has been sitting in brain-storming sessions with his senior party leaders and ministers to take stock of the reasons for the defeat.
People have been asked to e-mail directly to Omar on what they believe led to the NC’s poll debacle.
The first casualty, however, has been the electoral alliance between the centrist Congress and the regional NC.
“We have lost because of our alliance with the Congress. We shall now fight the state assembly elections on our own,” said Nasir Aslam Wani, provincial general secretary of the NC.
Reacting to Wani’s statement, a senior Congress leader said the Congress did not beg the NC to forge an electoral alliance with it.
The growing differences between the NC and the Congress have been further aggravated by the defeat at the hustings and whether or not the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir becomes a victim of this acrimony will have to be watched.
State assembly elections are due towards the end of this year and what is weighing heavily on the minds of the NC high command that includes Omar and his father, Farooq Abdullah, is whether the much hyped ‘bounce back’ would really happen within the next four to five months.
Many locals believe stalwarts like Rather, Mian and a few others might manage to win their seats in the 2014 assembly elections, but that might not help the party reach the present number of 28 that it has in the 87-member state assembly at present.
Will the overwhelming victory of the PDP that won all the three Lok Sabha seats in the Valley actually translate into seats when the state assembly elections are held here?
There are many ifs and buts to the PDP repeating its Lok Sabha election performance when state assembly polls are held as there are to the NC’s bounce back campaign.
At present, the PDP has 21 seats in the assembly, the Congress 17 and the BJP 11.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)