Discord in INDIA bloc? PDP snubs NC; set to contest all Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the candidates would be announced soon

Farooq Abdullah with his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti (File) Farooq Abdullah with his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti | PTI

A day after National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said the PDP may not field any candidates against the NC, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, said her party would contest in all Lok Sabha constituencies in Kashmir.

Omar had said the PDP president hadn't signalled any inclination to contest against the NC. He cited the 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 had urged the media to abstain from sowing discord between the two parties.

Addressing reporters, Mufti said the candidates would be announced within a few days.

Seemingly upset with Omar’s statement, she said the NC hadn’t left any door open for them.

“According to Omar, PDP doesn't exist anywhere. Whatever Omar has said could have been conveyed to us earlier,’’ she said. “But the way Omar spoke about the PDP has hurt my workers, who are not in favour of supporting NC at this juncture.”’

Mufti said consultation is going on, and the names of the candidates in Kashmir seats would be made soon.

The decision about the two Lok Sabha seats in the Jammu division was pending.

The PDP’s announcement to contest all seats in Kashmir, including the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, came soon after the Democratic Azad Party led by Ghulam Nabi Azad announced his candidature from Anantnag-Rajouri. The DAP was floated by Azad on September 22 after he quit the Congress after more than four decades.

The entry of the PDP into the fray has made the contest in Kashmir, especially in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, more interesting and challenging for the NC as south Kashmir encompassing Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, and Kulgam is considered a PDP territory.

The PDP also has earned the goodwill among the tribals of Rajouri and Poonch, especially Gujjars.

Observes believe a clash between the NC and the PDP in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, with Azad and J&K Apni Party also in the race, will benefit the BJP due to the division of votes.

The BJP is banking on the Pahari community of Rajouri-Poonch, which was granted a Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the BJP.

It also remains to be seen who the PDP will nominate from the constituency. As an INDIA bloc member, PDP had requested NC not to field any candidate from Anantnag-Rajouri. However, NC insisted on seat-sharing only in seats won by BJP, not INDIA bloc members, in the last Lok Sabha polls.

With both the NC and the PDP set to contest all Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir, the INDIA bloc in Kashmir has unravelled, though both parties are supporting the Congress on two seats in Jammu. 

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