With Parliament elections round the corner, the chances of a pre-poll alliance in Jammu and Kashmir seems “bleak” and “uncertain” as the National Conference (NC) is likely to field candidates for all five Lok Sabha segments in the Union Territory (UT).
The NC has decided to field Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister and patriarch of the party, as the candidate from Srinagar constituency, sources said. Octogenarian Abdullah, who is currently on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, has told the party leadership that he will contest the polls despite his failing health.
Flamboyant Abdullah lost the Srinagar seat in 2014 to the PDP candidate, but wrestled it back in 2019. His candidacy symbolizes the NC’s determination to amplify its voice on the national stage.
Omar Abdullah, scion of the Abdullah political dynasty and former CM, is likely to be the party’s candidate from north Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency, sources said. Known for his articulate stance on regional issues, Omar’s candidacy has widespread support from party loyalists.
The decision to field both Omar and Farooq underscores the NC’s concerted effort to consolidate its base and reclaim its influence in the politically volatile landscape of Kashmir. With their decades of experience and deep-rooted connection to the people, the Abdullahs represent a formidable force in Kashmir politics.
The party has also decided to field Mian Altaf Ahmad, a prominent Gujjar leader and religious figure from south Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency, which has a substantial vote percentage of Gujjar, Bakerwal and Pahari communities, after 2022 delimitation, sources said.
Altaf may be in a direct contest with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former CM Mehbooba Mufti, who is likely to fight the LS polls. Besides, former president of the J&K unit of Congress, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, and president of J&K unit of BJP, Ravindra Raina, are two other strong candidates, who may contest from Anantnag LS seat.
A senior NC leader told DH that the decision of candidature regarding the two Jammu seats was yet to be taken, “but if all goes well, Abdullahs and Mian Altaf will be contesting the upcoming polls.”
“The decision has been taken after threadbare discussions. In case senior Abdullah doesn’t contest due to any reason, Omar may shift to Srinagar constituency. There is no question of alliance with the PDP or any other party on three Valley seats as the NC is the only party capable of stopping the BJP juggernaut,” he revealed.
In 2019, the NC had won all three Valley Lok Sabha seats, while in 2014 the PDP had emerged victorious in all the three segments.–(Deccan Herald)