VIDEO| Changing Loyalties

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On Friday the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah said that his party would contest Lok Sabha elections on all three seats of Kashmir and is open for post poll alliance with anyone hinting towards the NDA. This was a political bombshell by Dr Farooq since his party has been strongly opposing the BJP and even the party patron once in an interview to Karan Thapar said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pharaoh. The sudden change of heart and opening links of political possibilities with Modi led NDA sent his party hierarchy into tizzy. Vice president, Omar Abdullah was quick to address the media following the assertions of his father to control the damage.

Omar was well aware of the fact that this statement of his father may not only put his party poll prospects in jeopardy but would vanish its political position on Jammu and Kashmir post August 5, 2019.

Omar clarified in his press conference that there is no door, window or even a crack open to forge an alliance with BJP and assured that his party has capacity to win reasonable number of seats to form government in Jammu and Kashmir on its own.

“We will come up with a reasonable number of seats in the Assembly elections to form the government on its own. We can’t think of tying up with BJP as there is no window, door or even a crack open for NDA,” he told media persons.

Omar even said that his party has to undo everything that BJP has done to harm the interests of the people of Union Territory.

Omar’s proposal of forming alliance with INDIA on two Jammu based seats and one in Ladakh was a major setback for People’s Democratic Party. Initially, it was presumed that NC will share South Kashmir seat with PDP where the party chief Mehbooba Mufti will contest, however, for central and North Kashmir seat Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah will be contesting.

The statement of JKNC patron and Vice president have buried all hopes of alliance between the two main political rivals who were forced to sit under the umbrella of PAGD following the political invasion of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir.

This stance of JKNC in Lok Sabha elections to go all alone in polls have put the PAGD in jeopardy since few parties have already parted ways.

“JKNC has a vote share with upper hand in most of the constituencies. PDP suffered a massive damage to its vote bank post August 5, 2019 since most of the party leaders left either formed the new party or joined other political parties. The only vote left in these constituencies is PDP’s own,” said a PDP leader, wished not to be named.

“On the other hand, the cadre of JKNC is intact with no division of votes so this is obvious why the party would like to elect any other leader on its own vote bank.”

The PDP has accepted the desire of JKNC without seeking any push or explanation since JKNC is reluctant to talk even with the party believing it’s base is already eroded with no significant and decisive vote share on ground- at least in Lok Sabha elections.

The PDP on the other hand is mulling to field its own candidates in all the three constituencies and is hopeful of Central Kashmir seat to its kitty.

“In the new delimitation process, six seats of South Kashmir have been shifted to Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency. These areas are predominantly supporting PDP. While on the other hand the major vote bank from Budgam constituency has been shifted to Baramulla. The only hope for JKNC is now Kangan area,” said another PDP leader.

So, it won’t be as easy for JKNC to secure the central Kashmir seat.” However, what becomes intractable for PDP to fight these elections is dearth of resources.

The PDP is facing a financial crisis since most of its sponsors have already quit the party. It doesn’t want to invest in Lok Sabha elections to an extent it feels exhausted, however, the main target is to secure at least one seat for its party chief.  On the other hand, what prompted JKNC to tactfully quit from INDIA alliance though it doesn’t officially endorse its changed position need to understand.

The JKNC believes that it can win on its own significant number of seats to form the government along with some other small parties. So, it is not required to have any pre poll alliance to a large extent, JKNC has proper assessment of ground situation since it is the only party that suffered least damage following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

The NC believes if it succeeded in securing three seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, it has better chances to stay with NDA and try to improve its working relations with BJP at center. The NDA has also its own compulsions since it cannot form the government on its own in Jammu and Kashmir. While it has strong footholds in Jammu region and may come up with significant number of seats but it may also require an alliance to form the government.

Alongside that the JKNC would also want its party patron Dr Farooq Abdullah not being troubled by ED for its alleged multi crore scam. Last week, Dr Farooq was again summoned by the ED to appear in person in the case. It was only after that Dr Farooq threw the weight in NDA’s favour and made attempts to ditch INDIA alliance.

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