NC fields candidate from Mufti’s bastion Anantnag, ends prospects of alliance with PDP

“There will be no better candidate than Mian Altaf from the constituency. He has vast popularity across various segments of the society. He would garner substantial support from the people,” said NC vice-president Omar Abdullah

April 01, 2024 09:25 pm | Updated 09:25 pm IST - SRINAGAR

J&K National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. File.

J&K National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. File. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

The National Conference (NC) on April 1 nominated senior leader Mian Altaf as its candidate for the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, putting an end to the Congress’ efforts to stitch together a pre-poll alliance between INDIA bloc members, including the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the Kashmir valley.  

“There will be no better candidate than Mian Altaf from the constituency. He has vast popularity across various segments of the society. He would garner substantial support from the people,” NC vice-president Omar Abdullah said.

Also read | Speaking Pahari, seeking Anantnag

NC spokesman Imran Dar said it was a “unanimous decision” of the party to field Mr. Altaf. “We hope the voters will give a decisive mandate and a befitting reply to those forces who snatched J&K’s identity,” Mr. Dar said.

The NC’s decision to field a candidate from the south Kashmir seat has brought an end to several months of efforts by the Congress to negotiate a seat arrangement between the NC and the PDP. The two parties are the main constituents of Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), fighting for restoration of the pre-August 2019 position of J&K, when the erstwhile state enjoyed special constitutional status under Article 370 and 35A. 

The PDP has not reacted to the development, with its president Mehbooba Mufti away in Delhi to attend the INDIA bloc’s recent meeting. 

Ms. Mufti’s party has been insisting on fielding a candidate from one of the three seats in the Kashmir valley. The PDP’s first choice was Anantnag-Rajouri where Ms. Mufti has won in the past and a seat the party considers a bastion. The Muftis hail from Bijbehara of Anantnag district of south Kashmir. However, the NC has been adamant on fielding candidates from all the three seats, arguing it won them in the 2019 elections. Several NC leaders insisted that the PAGD was “an ideological and not electoral alliance”.

J&K has five Parliament seats, two in the Jammu region and three in the Kashmir Valley. The Congress, the PDP and the NC have decided to fight together in the Jammu region. 

The delay in nominating the candidates for the Anantnag seat due to the PDP-NC negotiations kept the rivals guessing. Most rival parties like the BJP, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Peoples Democratic Azad Party and Altaf Bukhari’s J&K Apni Party are yet to nominate their candidates for the seat.

The BJP has taken a number of measures, including reservation for Paharis and implementation of Forest Act for Gujjars, to carve out a base for itself in a constituency with multiple fault lines based on region, religion, caste and ethnicity.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.