Battle of ballot turns interesting in Kashmir as NC, PDP to clash in race for 3 LS seats

Arteev Sharma. Updated: 4/4/2024 1:16:17 AM Front Page

Mehbooba says ‘NC left no option for us’; ‘PDP is closing doors of alliance, not our fault’: Omar

Jammu: A day after the former chief minister and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah claimed that the PDP never indicated to field its candidates, his bête-noire and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday added more spice to an already heated contest by announcing that her party would contest all the three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir Valley.
Both the PDP and the National Conference-- two formidable political entities in Kashmir—are the INDIA bloc partners in Jammu and Kashmir and the leaders of two parties, including NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, shared the stage at the recently-held opposition’s rally at Delhi Ram Leela Maidan, similar to one in Mumbai, but they failed to negotiate with the “unfolding political drama” ahead of elections to be held on three seats of Kashmir Valley.
“They (NC) have left no option for us other than to field candidates and contest the elections. The way Omar Abdullah announced the unilateral decision of contesting all three seats of Kashmir without taking us into confidence, and by saying that the PDP has no workers or support so they will not get a single seat, it hurt my workers and broke their hearts,” Mehbooba said while substantiating her party’s decision of jumping into the fray on all three seats.
If the PDP insiders are to be believed, Mehbooba Mufti is most likely to contest from the prestigious Anantnag-Rajouri seat, while the party’s youth president Waheed Parra may be given the mandate from the Central Kashmir seat. “Former Rajya Sabha MP Fayaz Mir, who recently rejoined PDP, is likely to be fielded from North Kashmir (Baramulla seat),” they said, adding “the party’s parliamentary board would take a final call on the candidates”.
Sources within the NC, however, disclosed that Omar is likely to contest from the Srinagar-Pulwama constituency while senior party leader Choudhary Ramzan may contest from the Baramulla seat.
The National Conference has already announced that former minister Main Altaf would be its candidate for the newly carved out Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary seat while the Democratic Progress Azad Party (DPAP) chief and veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is also trying his luck from the seat. The BJP, which is also considered one of the key political players in this seat, is yet to decide on fielding its candidate.
Mehbooba has already begun campaigning for the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat and addressed a series of public meetings in Poonch to mobilize support for her party for the coming Lok Sabha elections on the Anantnag-Rajouri seat.
Sources said the decision of two titans in Kashmir politics—NC and PDP to contest elections from all three seats has put the Congress party in a difficult position. The party leadership is in a dilemma over extending open support to either of the two regional parties.
While holding talks with the Congress on seat-sharing in J-K, the NC had made it clear that they will be contesting the three valley seats as they had won these in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The NC left two seats in Jammu for the Congress as part of the INDIA bloc’s seat-sharing agreement.
Omar Abdullah, on his part, said he had not “made any remarks about her party and, therefore, I have nothing to say on this”. The PDP was going back on the understanding reached for the DDC polls where the parties having won the seats would field their candidates, he said.
“What can I say about this? It is their own will. How can I stop them? We announced candidates for the three seats of Kashmir based on their own formula,” he said.
When the DDC elections took place, the NC had asked the PDP that seat-sharing should be done on the basis of the results of the 2109 parliamentary elections but the latter did not accept that, Omar said.
“They told us that the candidates will be decided on the basis of the 2014 assembly polls. The decision was made that whoever had won the assembly seat will contest from that seat. So, in this parliamentary poll, the same formula was applied. Wherefrom we had won, we decided to field candidates,” he added.
He said since there was no scope for seat sharing with the PDP in the parliamentary polls, “we would keep a scope for the assembly elections”.
“But, now if Mehbooba Mufti has decided to contest on all seats, then perhaps she does not want an alliance for the assembly polls as well. In that case, I cannot say anything. We had kept the doors open, but if they are closing those doors, it is not our fault,” he added.
On DPAP founder Ghulam Nabi Azad entering the fray for Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, Abdullah said he was surprised.
“I am quite surprised that Azad has chosen to fight from Anantnag-Rajouri-Poonch. I would have thought that if he is keen to enter Parliament, he should have fought from his bastion, his strength in Chenab valley. I would have thought he would have fought the Udhampur seat.

Updated On 4/4/2024 1:17:00 AM

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