Lok Sabha polls: NC fields Omar Abdullah from Baramulla, Agha Ruhullah Mehdi from Srinagar

Omar will face People's Conference President Sajad Gani Lone

Omar Abdullah [File] Omar Abdullah | Umer Asif

The National Conference announced on Friday that the party's Vice President Omar Abdullah will be its candidate for the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, while Aga Ruhullah Mehdi will contest from Srinagar.

Omar entered politics in 1998 as a Lok Sabha member from Srinagar and served as deputy minister of state for external affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government. However, he faced setbacks in the 2002 assembly elections when he lost to the PDP candidate in Ganderabal. In the 2008 assembly elections, he contested from Sonwat and Budgam assembly constituencies but only won from Budgam, with the PDP candidate Ashraf Mir securing the Sonwar constituency.

In Baramulla, Omar will face People's Conference President Sajad Gani Lone, setting the stage for a direct contest between the two legacy politicians.

Aga Ruhullah Mehdi, an influential Shia leader from Budgam, is a three-time legislator and is considered a formidable candidate for Srinagar. He will go up against Waheed Para of the PDP, the party’s youth president who holds significant influence on the youth in south Kashmir, which forms part of the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. Mehdi and Para are expected to engage in a direct fight for the Srinagar constituency.

The NC has strategically positioned its candidates intending to make an impact in the upcoming elections and leverage its strengths.

Despite both being members of the INDIA alliance, the NC and the PDP failed to reach an agreement on seat sharing. The PDP had hoped that the NC would refrain from fielding any candidate in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency. However, after the NC named Mian Altaf, an influential Gujjar leader, for the constituency to appeal to the large Gujjar voter base in Rajouri and Poonch, the PDP responded by fielding its President Mehbooba Mufti, a former MP and chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, from the constituency.

The PDP has also nominated its former Rajya Sabha member Fayaz Mir to contest from Baramulla. Consequently, the NC and the PDP are now engaged in a direct contest with each other on all three seats in Kashmir.

Despite their differences, both parties have extended support to the Congress on two seats in Jammu—Udhampur and Jammu.

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