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Talks between National Conference (NC) and Congress to negotiate a seat-sharing arrangement have hit a roadblock after the latter demanded to contest one of three Lok Sabha seats from the Kashmir Valley.

Sources said Congress wanted National Conference to contest one of the Jammu seats and give them one seat in lieu in the Valley. National Conference, however, insisted that they will contest all the three seats of the Valley while Congress should focus on Ladakh and Jammu region.

“We had a preliminary round of discussions. Congress was pressing for one seat in the Valley and wanted us to take Jammu which we believe will simply hand over the seat to BJP. We have told them it is unacceptable to us. There have been no further discussions,” said a senior National Conference leader.

Under the 2014 seat-sharing arrangement, Congress had contested two Jammu and Ladakh parliamentary seats while the National Conference had contested all the three seats in the Valley.

Both parties, however, drew blank as BJP swept Jammu and Ladakh while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all the three seats of the Valley.

However, Anantnag Lok Sabha fell vacant after Mehbooba quit to become the chief minister of J&K after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2016. Later PDP MP from Srinagar Tariq Hamid Karra quit in protest against the killings during 2016 unrest.

The 2017 by-election saw Congress and National Conference again joining hands and both contested one seat each. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah won the Srinagar seat though the turnout was only seven per cent and marred by large scale militant violence.

Polls for the Anantnag constituency was postponed because of the precarious security situation. PDP had fielded Mehbooba’s brother Tasaduq Hussain Mufti from Anantnag constituency who was pitted against J&K Congress president GA Mir.

This time Congress wanted NC to adopt 50-50 formula again however with a caveat of that the seat-sharing arrangement would not be region-specific.

“Talks are going on. We are hopeful. In fact, in politics, one should always be hopeful. Let me tell you that talks are being held in a very good atmosphere,” said GN Monga, vice-president of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee.

Cong Optimistic

“Talks are going on. We are hopeful. In politics, one should always be hopeful. Talks are being held in a very good atmosphere,” said GN Monga, PCC vice-chief.

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