Just three weeks to go for the national elections, the Congress and the National Conference today finalised their alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. Under it, the Congress would contest the two seats in Jammu and have a "friendly contest" with the National Conference in two seats of Baramulla and Anantnag . The party will not field any candidate against Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar and discussions on the state's sixth seat - in Ladakh - are on.
"Jammu and Udhampur will be contested by Congress and there will be a friendly contest between NC and Congress in Anantnag and Baramulla," said National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, who would contest from Srinagar.
"Friendly contest means that there will be no cut-throat contest between us on these two seats. If either Congress or NC wins, it is a win-win situation for both of us," added Mr Azad.
The National Conference had initially said it wanted to contest the three seats in the Kashmir Valley. "We have told them clearly that only National Conference candidates will be there on the three seats in the Kashmir Valley," party chief and Farooq Abdullah's son Omar Abdullah had said.
With just three weeks to go for the national elections, the Congress has been criticised by former Union minister Yashwant Sinha for failing to wrap up its alliances by now. The party has also been criticized for failing to save alliances at the cost of a few seats.
Mr Sinha and Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav have both commented on the way the BJP has managed to retain its allies - fractious allies like the Shiv Sena and tiny regional allies like Apna Dal and OP Rajbhar - by giving them their wishlist.
In Bihar, the BJP has given 17 seats to ally Nitish Kumar, even though his Janata Dal United won only two seats in the 2014 national elections compared to the BJP's 22 seats.
In contrast, the Congress has often taken a hard line about seats and that had often adversely affected the negotiations.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azaf today said, "Live and let live. This is the best decision taken in national interest. If either the Congress or National Conference wins, it is a win-win situation for both," said.
In 2014, both Congress and National Conference had drawn a blank in the national elections. The six seats were evenly divided between the BJP and Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party.
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