National Conference vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah has said his party was not an alliance partner of the Congress in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
In an interaction with THE WEEK, Omar said his party didn't field candidates on two seats in Jammu, but they were not in an alliance with the Congress.
“We are not alliance partners. We have made that very clear from day one,'' he told THE WEEK, adding, “We have chosen not to field any candidates in Udhampur and Jammu for exactly the same reason as PDP has done because we didn't want the anti-BJP vote to get divided.”
Omar said the NC was fighting against the Congress in Srinagar and Anantnag and would also fight against it in the Leh-Kargil Lok Sabha seats.
“The Congress has chosen not to put up a candidate in Srinagar because of the seniority of doctor Sahab (Farooq Abdullah),'' Omar said.
With the NC and PDP not fielding candidates in Jammu and Udhampur in Jammu region, the sizeable Muslim vote there is likely to go to the Congress. That has made the contest in Jammu a direct fight between the BJP and Congress.
There is also the possibility of a split in the Hindu vote. This is because of the candidature of Lal Singh, a former BJP leader who floated the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan after being forced to resign from the state cabinet for attending a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case. The possible split in the Hindu vote and Muslim consolidation for Congress has made the contest in Jammu's two seats, especially Udhampur, very interesting.
Earlier, the NC, PDP and Congress were also planning to field a joint candidate in Ladakh against the BJP that won the seat in 2014 by a mere 34 votes.
The NC, PDP and Peoples Conference have put candidates on all three seats in Kashmir—Srinagar, Baramulla, and Anantnag. The Congress has fielded candidates only in Baramulla and Anantnag,
The NC has an edge in Srinagar over the PDP due to the failure of the BJP-PDP alliance and its handling of the 2016 uprising in which 116 civilians were killed and hundreds were injured and blinded by pellets.