In a move hinting at potential discord within the Congress-led INDIA alliance, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah has stated that discussions will solely revolve around the three parliamentary seats currently in the possession of the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Addressing reporters, Omar Abdullah highlighted the absence of initiative from the BJP-led central government to concurrently conduct assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, indicating a hesitancy to engage with the electorate.
“Seat-sharing discussions within the I.N.D.I.A. alliance have not commenced yet. However, the Congress has expressed readiness, urging dialogue particularly concerning the Jammu, Udhampur, and Ladakh constituencies held by the BJP,” Omar stated.
Apart from the Congress and the National Conference, which clinched all three parliamentary seats from Kashmir in the 2019 elections, the Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also part of the I.N.D.I.A. alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.
Omar highlighted the National Conference’s past electoral participation in Jammu, Udhampur, and Ladakh constituencies, expressing a resolve to strategize for the recovery of seats currently under BJP control. Responding to queries, Omar clarified, “The seats won by the National Conference in 2019 are within the I.N.D.I.A. alliance’s purview. Our focus is on reclaiming those currently held by the BJP. Hence, discussions will center solely on BJP-held seats.”
Regarding the possibility of simultaneous parliamentary and assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Omar questioned the BJP’s readiness, citing recent restrictions on his visit to border districts Rajouri and Poonch as indicative of ongoing tensions. The statements come amidst escalating political tensions in the region, with Omar Abdullah challenging assertions of improved security and development made by the BJP.
Responding to Omar Abdullah’s remarks, Congress Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma responded, stating, “Any party can claim anything. Let the alliance partners convene; we remain hopeful that everyone will work for a bigger cause.”
In a similar vein, PDP Spokesperson Virender Singh emphasized the party’s stake, saying, “If someone talks about the stake of the party, then in the last election, PDP won 28 seats, making us the biggest stakeholder. Therefore, we should strategize to prevent the BJP from jeopardizing the country and the constitution.”
The political landscape in Jammu and Kashmir appears to be undergoing significant shifts within the Congress-led I.N.D.I.A. alliance. Sources within the PDP indicate a desire to contest elections on at least two seats, specifically North Kashmir and South Kashmir, while Congress aims for the Poonch and Anantnag seats, in addition to two seats in Jammu – Jammu Reasi and Udhampur Doda parliamentary constituency.