Srinagar: The National Conference on Friday said it would not agree a seat-share deal with the Peoples Democratic Party ahead of the Lok Sabha election in Jammu and Kashmir, a development that comes as setback for the opposition INDIA bloc. NC leader Omar Abdullah‘s swipe at the PDP underlined the rift between the two regional parties, each of which has declared it will contest the poll on its own.

“I have told you… the party that is No. 3 has no right to ask for a seat. If I had been told, before joining INDIA, we would have to weaken ourselves for another member, I would have never joined,” Mr Abdullah said.

This was after PDP boss Mehbooba Mufti said her party too is planning to fight this election on its own. She said the PDP would decide candidates for J&K’s five seats and the one in Ladakh.

READ | Another INDIA Setback As PDP Preps For “Own Fight” In Polls

“Since they (the National Conference) have already taken a decision… we will discuss it. There will be deliberations and a future course of action will be decided (soon),” the PDP’s Suhail Bukhari said.

That comment, in turn, was after one by Farooq Abdullah – Mr Abdullah’s father.

READ | Farooq Abdullah’s Party To Fight Alone In J&K In Setback For INDIA

“As far as seat sharing is concerned, I want to make it clear NC will contest elections on its own. There should be no questions on this…” he had said last month. Hours later Omar Abdullah attempted damage control, stating (with his father by his side) the NC “is still” part of INDIA.

READ | After Farooq Abdullah’s Comment On INDIA, Son Omar Clarifies

Farooq Abdullah’s comment was seen as the former Chief Minister expressing concern over the stalemate between his party, the PDP, and the Congress in reaching a seat-share agreement.

As this back-and-forth continued, Omar Abdullah also made it clear there was no scenario in which the National Conference would ally with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

“Let me make it clear… there is no window, or even a crack, open for the NDA… there is no possibility of us joining them,” he said in response to speculation the NC would quit INDIA.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP and Mr Abdullah’s NC split the six seats, with the former winning Ladakh, Udhampur, and Jammu, and the latter claiming Baramulla, Srinagar (where Mr Modi on Thursday held a massive rally), and Anantnag.

The PDP contested all six but failed to win any, and went home with an overall vote share of less than four per cent. The NC secured a vote share of just under eight per cent. The Congress, which also failed to win any seats, picked up around 28 per cent of the votes.

Talks for the 2024 election have reportedly stalled over the PDP’s demand for the Anantnag seat, which is currently held by the NC but was won by Ms Mufti in 2004 and 2014. It was also won by Ms Mufti’s father, ex-Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, in 1998; he was then with the Congress.

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