The principal ruling party in Jammu and Kashmir and a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance at the Centre, National Conference (NC) on Thursday declared that the Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah would be repeated as its candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Central Kashmir.

Addressing a well-attended public gathering on the occasion of the NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's birth anniversary at Hazratbal, Dr. Abdullah announced that he would be yet again contesting the Parliamentary election from his home constituency — comprising Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts. Making public a significant party decision, he said that the NC would also repeat Dr. Mehboob Beg from South Kashmir and Sharifuddin Shariq from North Kashmir. The trio had been returned while defeating the main opposition outfit People's Democratic Party's candidates in 2008.

Even as Dr. Abdullah, who functions as the party's patron, made no mention about the candidates from the remaining three seats — two in Jammu division and one in Ladakh — it was widely believed that the NC would share these with Congress, its coalition partner in the State and at the Centre. However, a seat-sharing arrangement between the two has not been hitherto worked out.

Dr. Abdullah, as well as the NC's acting president and the State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked the party cadres to prepare themselves for next year's Parliamentary and Assembly elections. They made fontal attacks on the PDP and the BJP leaderships, alleging that both had been "misleading the masses with a communal and parochial agenda". They asserted that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Indian constitution and its abrogation or amendment was impossible.

Omar Abdullah pooh-poohed the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's concern for the minority Shia community. In Jammu on last Sunday, Mr. Modi had spoken of the BJP's support to the Shia community. Mr. Abdullah ridiculed Mr. Midi's promise that the Shias of Kargil would observe the Muharram with "religious fervor". He pointed out that the BJP leader was unaware of the difference between a festival of joy and the month of mourning and solemnity.

Both the NC leaders alleged that the PDP was "Delhi's creation" immediately after the J&K Legislature had unanimously passed a resolution for grant of greater autonomy in 1999. They alleged that the objective of PDP's creation was nothing but to destabilize the NC and weaken its base in the Valley. Dr Abdullah said that none other than the senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beg had counseled former Governor Jagmohan on the annulment of the Article 370 that grants special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Beg, who functioned as Deputy Chief Minister in Ghulam Nabi Azad's Congress-PDP coalition government in 2005-06, worked as Advocate General in Governor Jagmohan's establishment in 1986.