'PDP may not field candidates against NC in Lok Sabha polls': Omar Abdullah

NC and PDP have failed to resolve differences over seat-sharing in Kashmir region

Omar Abdullah Omar Abdullah | Bilal Bahadur

In a significant turn of events, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said on Tuesday that the People's Democratic Party (PDP) might refrain from fielding candidates against his party in the Kashmir Valley, highlighting the cohesion within the INDIA bloc.

Talking to reporters, Abdullah said that PDP president Mehbooba Mufti hasn’t signalled any inclination to contest against the NC. He pointed to a recent rally held by the INDIA bloc in Delhi, where Mufti shared a platform with NC president Farooq Abdullah, reaffirming PDP's allegiance to the alliance. The NC vice-president urged the media to abstain from sowing discord between the two parties. Taking a swipe at the emerging new alliances in Kashmir, he alleged that these factions were working at the behest of the BJP and would participate in the elections as its proxies in Jammu and Kashmir.

Regarding Article 370, he reiterated his long-held position, describing its abrogation as a grave error that stripped the people of Jammu and Kashmir of their rights. He also denounced the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, attributing it to the flawed policies of the BJP.

The NC and the PDP, despite being two important members of the INDIA bloc, have failed to resolve differences over seat-sharing arrangements in the Kashmir region.

The NC has maintained that seat-sharing in Jammu and Kashmir will take place on only two seats won by the BJP in the last Lok Sabha polls.

The NC won all three seats - Anantnag rechristened as Anantnag- Rajouri after delimitation - in the last Lok Sabha polls in Kashmir, the BJP won Jammu and Udhampur constituencies. The party also won the lone seat in Ladakh.

As a member of the INDIA bloc, the PDP wanted the NC to refrain from contesting the Anantnag-Rajouri seat but, on Monday, the NC named Mian Altaf the party candidate from the seat, who commands a sizeable following in the Gujjar community in Rajouri and Poonch, also called Pir Panjal.

The Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency includes parts of Pir Panjal and parts of south Kashmir, covering 18 assembly segments.

South Kashmir, comprising the districts of Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama, is a stronghold of the PDP, while the NC and the Congress also influence some parts.

The PDP leadership and workers wanted Mufti to contest from the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency; however, with the naming of Mian by the NC, the situation has become challenging for both the BJP and the PDP. If the PDP desists from fielding any candidate, it will exacerbate the BJP's plan to extend its reach to Kashmir.

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