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PAGD Alliance Crumbles Ahead of LS Polls: Seat Sharing Talks Between NC and PDP Collapse

March 9, 2024

Srinagar- The political landscape in Jammu & Kashmir witnessed a tumultuous turn on Friday as the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) literally collapsed with National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party trading charges after the former ruled out conceding Anantnag- Rajouri Lok Sabha seat to the latter, citing its poor performance in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The alliance between the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faced a severe setback over the coveted Anantnag- Rajouri seat.

Addressing a news conference here, National Conference Vice -President Omar Abdullah ruled out forming an alliance with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, and criticized them for targeting his party, the National Conference (NC).

He stated that the PDP had no credibility left after bringing the BJP to power in the state and betraying the people’s mandate. Abdullah affirmed that the NC would contest all three Lok Sabha constituencies in the Kashmir valley independently and expressed confidence in winning by a significant margin.

Abdullah emphasized that the prevailing circumstances, not the NC, had kept the PDP out, and questioned their involvement in south Kashmir despite their third-place finish in the 2019 LS polls.

He expressed openness to offering the seat to Congress if they chose to contest against the BJP, but firmly ruled out accommodating the PDP. Accusing the PDP of breaching coalition principles and engaging in social media attacks against the NC, Omar emphasized that the alliance’s primary purpose was to represent the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

He criticized the “PDP’s mudslinging tactics and stressed that responsibility for maintaining the alliance should not solely rest on the NC”.

In a swift response, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Friday accused the National Conference (NC) of reducing the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) to a “joke” after the Farooq Abdullah-led party unilaterally decided to contest all three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir.

PAGD is an alliance of five political parties seeking the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which was revoked by the Centre in 2019.

Addressing a press conference at the party office here, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the NC’s decision was “disappointing” and a “setback to the hopes of the people of J&K”.

“Omar (Abdullah) has himself said that the PDP is out of the alliance. You can see who has broken the alliance. We did not. This was a unique alliance, it is disappointing to see it shattered. They have reduced PAGD to a joke,” Mufti said when asked if the NC’s decision meant the alliance was broken.

When asked about Omar’s jibe of PDP standing 3rd during the 2019 LS elections from Anantnag seat, Mehbooba said that both Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah have lost elections in the past. “Does that mean they should not contest again? This logic is bizarre,” Mehbooba said.

The NC has announced the party would contest all the three seats in the Kashmir valley and asked the Congress to contest on two seats in the Jammu region. The party also said there would be a consensus candidate on the Ladakh seat.

Jammu and Kashmir has five Lok Sabha seats, including two from the Jammu region , while Ladakh has one. In the last elections, while the NC won all the three seats from the valley, the BJP won the two Jammu seats as well as the lone Ladakh seat.

Mufti, however, said the PDP was still a part of the INDIA bloc and the party would discuss the future strategy with the Congress.

“We will discuss with the Congress and not take a unilateral decision. We will also deliberate it within the party and soon take a decision on it (contesting the Lok Sabha polls),” she added.

She said it was “difficult to see the unity break”.

“I regret that what we nurtured for five years has been shattered,” she said. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said had the NC leadership discussed the issue with her, the PDP could have let the NC contest on all the three seats in the valley.

“There used to be a discussion on smaller issues within the PAGD, but the NC took such a decision without consulting us,” she said, adding what the BJP couldn’t do (breaking PAGD), has been done by a member of the alliance.

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