Srinagar, May 18 (IANS) The independent MP from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir joined the National Conference Monday bringing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) tally to 263 in the newly elected Lok Sabha.
Ghulam Hassan Khan, who fought against the Congress candidate in the cold desert region of Ladakh, announced his decision to return to the National Conference at a news conference here.
'I am grateful to Khan sahib for unconditionally accepting the invitation of the National Conference and the Congress high command,' Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said.
Khan, a veteran National Conference leader from Ladakh, had rebelled to fight the Lok Sabha election as an independent candidate against the Congress' P. Namgyal. Khan defeated Namgyal by over 3,000 votes.
The National Conference had given the Ladakh constituency to the Congress under a seat sharing agreement between the two ruling partners in the state. Of the six Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, the two parties contested from three each.
While the National Conference won all the three seats it contested from the valley, the Congress lost Ladakh but won two seats from Jammu region.
'Khan joining the National Conference is homecoming for him,' Abdullah said.
'We had insisted at the time of seat sharing with (the Congress) that Ladakh should be fought by a National Conference candidate on the 3-3 formula,' Abdullah said.
'Our support to the UPA is unconditional and we don't believe in any bargaining,' the chief minister said.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, elected to the parliament from Srinagar constituency, was present at the news conference and welcomed Khan's return to the party at his uptown Gupkar residence.
With Khan joining the National Conference, the party has four MPs from the state.
In 2004, Khan had fought the Lok Sabha elections as a National Conference candidate, but was defeated by Thupstan Chewang, an independent candidate backed by Ladakh Buddhist Front.