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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Article 370 is main poll plank in J&K

The polls would be fought on Article 370 with the two main regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), focussing their campaigns around it.
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 23:11 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 23:11 IST

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Srinagar: The announcement of elections has sparked a sense of excitement in the valley and there is hope among the people.

The polls would be fought on Article 370 with the two main regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), focussing their campaigns around it.

Though J&K sends a mere five MPs out of 543 to the Parliament, this election has become a battleground. Two former chief ministers – Omar Abdullah of NC and Mehbooba Mufti of PDP – have stepped into the fray with different aspirations.

The campaigns of both PDP and the NC revolve around BJP bashing and labeling local parties other than themselves as ‘A, B and C teams’ of the saffron party and vowing to restore the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370.

Both Omar and Mehbooba have been terming separatist-turned-mainstream leader Sajjad Lone led People’s Conference (PC), Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari and Ghulam Nabi Azad’s DPAP as “proxies of the BJP which have been created to divide Muslim votes.”

Apni Party and DPAP came into existence after the dissolution of J&K Assembly in 2018 after which dozens of leaders from the NC, PDP, and the Congress switched over. While Lone was a minister in the last PDP-BJP alliance, around a dozen leaders from these parties joined him post-2018 making him a formidable challenger in north Kashmir’s Baramulla LS seat.

It is here where the NC and the PDP feel heat. Omar, the scion of the Abdullah dynasty, has shifted the goalpost to Baramulla seat from Srinagar. He jumped out of his base probably to reclaim his family's political dominance, but in the prevailing situation, it looks bleak as he will face a stiff challenge from Lone, who is supported by Bukhari.

Mehbooba Mufti, the fiery president of the PDP, is out to reclaim the lost battleground from the newly created trans-Pir Panjal LS constituency, which is one of the most closely watched seats for myriad reasons.

She will face an uphill task to defeat influential Gujjar leader Mian Altaf, who has been nominated by the NC. The candidates of Azad and Bukhari-led parties from Anantnag will cut the votes of Mehbooba by more than Altaf.

The Anantnag and Baramulla contests are a battle for survival for the PDP and the NC. Anantnag had always been a PDP stronghold while NC had a major vote share in Baramulla apart from Srinagar.

In Srinagar, both NC and PDP have fielded lesser-known candidates – Agha Ruhullah and Waheed Parra respectively. With no formidable challenge from any other party, one of the two is all set to enter the Parliament for the first time.

Political analysts believe that with the electoral arena having undergone major changes after the delimitation exercise and other factors, NC and PDP have added to each other’s problems by not forging an alliance.

In the absence of understanding between the I.N.D.I.A bloc partners – NC and PDP - the emergence of new political players after August 5, 2019, the BJP seems to have the edge in the Jammu region.

While the BJP has retained both Udhampur and Jammu seats since 2014, the party has re-nominated Union Minister Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishor Sharma for the third time and they are favorites to retain their seats. Division of Muslim votes can give an advantage to BJP in the Udhampur seat due to the entry of G M Saroori, a former minister in J&K and candidate of Azad-led party.

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Published 18 April 2024, 23:11 IST

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