The Congress on Wednesday announced its alliance with the National Conference (NC) for Jammu & Kashmir. Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and NC patron Farooq Abdullah held a joint press conference in the national capital and declared that while the Congress will contest two seats, the NC will contest one, and there will be a “friendly contest" in two seats.
However, it’s still a mixed bag for the Congress on the alliance front, though the first phase of polling for the Lok Sabha election is just three weeks away. The party has struck some alliances such as those in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Alliances in Bihar and Jharkhand are also likely to be announced soon. However, several others are still a work in progress.
Bihar and Jharkhand, two north Indian states where the Congress has traditionally had allies, did face last-minute hitches but seat-sharing talks have been concluded and official announcements are expected soon. In Bihar, the announcement about sharing of seats in the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led mahagatbandhan could be made as early as Friday.
“In Bihar, the problem was not really of seat-sharing but division of seats—who will contest which seat. That seems to be over now. We wanted to wait till Holi for the final announcement," a senior Congress leader from Bihar said requesting anonymity.
A key state in which last-minute talks on division of seats are still on is Maharashtra. Senior Congress party leaders from the state said both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have started announcing candidates for their share of seats in consonance with each other.
“Our electoral understanding in Maharashtra is very clear. We are ahead of others and have already started announcing candidates. There is no official announcement as such because we are still trying to accommodate some of the smaller parties," a senior Congress leader working in the state said, seeking anonymity.
However, the party has failed to have pre-poll arrangements with the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left parties in West Bengal and has faced repeated snubs by the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh where she has already joined hands with Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The Congress still seems undecided in Delhi, which has seven Lok Sabha seats, on whether or not to ally with the Aam Aadmi Party. The local unit led by Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit has expressed reservations, but a section of the party is in favour of an alliance, prompting the central leadership to rethink the issue.