Mehbooba Mufti hit out at National Conference leader Omar Abdullah

Srinagar: Weeks ahead of the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, Jammu and Kashmir has joined the list of states where INDIA allies are contesting against each other. The Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to go solo in Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir.

Announcing the decision at a press meet, Ms Mufti said her party will contest the three seats in Kashmir Valley and will soon take a decision on contesting the two parliamentary seats in Jammu. She also hit out at ally National Conference for its “unilateral” decision to contest all seats in Kashmir.

The move comes after National Conference announced that it will contest all three seats in Kashmir and named Mian Altaf as its candidate from Anantnag-Rajouri seat.

Hitting out at National Conference and its leader Omar Abdullah, she said, “The National Conference and Omar Abdullah didn’t leave any option for us.”

She said the need of the hour was for political parties in Jammu and Kashmir to remain united. But the attitude of the National Conference leadership was hurtful, she said. “When the INDI alliance’s meeting took place in Mumbai, I said there that since (NC president) Farooq Abdullah is our senior leader, he will take a decision (on seat sharing) and will do justice. I had hoped he would keep the party interests aside,” she said. But the National Conference decided to contest all three seats in Kashmir unilaterally, she added.

Ms Mufti said that if the National Conference had consulted the PDP before announcing the decision, her party could have decided not to field candidates in the larger interest of Kashmir.

“If they had to take the same decision, if they thought that they had a better voice than the PDP to raise the issues of the people of Kashmir, then they should have told me two months ago that they wanted to contest themselves and told me not to field candidates, then perhaps, for the larger interest, we would not have contested,” she said.

“But, the way Omar (Abdullah) announced the decision without taking us into confidence, it hurt my workers and broke their hearts,” she added.

The National Conference last month announced that it will be contesting all Lok Sabha seats in the valley.

In a press meet yesterday, Omar Abdullah had slammed the media for trying to create a rift between National Conference and PDP.

“Why are you making the PDP fight us? Has the PDP said anywhere that they will contest elections? It is you people who are fuelling this. I heard the speech of Mehboba Mufti in Delhi, she said Farooq sahib and we are together and we will not break the INDIA alliance. Why are you trying to make us fight?” he asked.

He also said the National Conference’s decision to contest all three seats in Kashmir was based on who won the previous elections.

This puts the Congress in a tricky spot. Now it must decide whether it will support the PDP or National Conference. The PDP’s decision will also add a punch to the BJP’s campaign against the INDIA alliance over the bloc’s members taking each other on in multiple states, including Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal.



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