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Not an unexpected 'Dangal'

NC and PDP were working separately for long to reach to this point
12:00 AM Mar 13, 2024 IST | ZAHOOR MALIK
not an unexpected  dangal
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The open differences between National Conference (NC) and the PDP on seat sharing for parliamentary polls, the subsequent allegations and counter allegations, and their political consequences, are not something unexpected.

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The two political parties were busy strengthening themselves at grassroots level in every nook and corner of Kashmir by holding public and party meetings. Primarily their aim was to make preparations for the coming Lok Sabha polls and later assembly elections.

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NC from the very beginning had made up its mind to contest all the three seats in Kashmir and was preparing accordingly. Getting some kind of feelers about NC's strategy, PDP did not want to lag behind and was working on its own plan accordingly. However, the party was of the view that perhaps NC may leave Anantnag - Rajouri - Poonch seat for it. But this did not happen and NC finally declared its poll related movement.

The differences and allegations and counter allegations between NC and PDP attracted lot of attention politically  since the two parties are part of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) in Kashmir and the Congress lead opposition parties' Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance  (I.N.D.I.A) at national level. Rival parties alleged that PAGD was launched by NC and PDP to mislead the people and now they have  got exposed after parting ways at the election time.

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Despite NC and PDP  being the part of PAGD and I.N.D.I.A bloc, politically they are bitter rivals. Since its foundation in 1999, PDP started working to make itself  an alternative political party for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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The party also succeeded in its efforts. It ousted NC from power in 2002 and 2014 assembly polls and formed coalition government with Congress and BJP respectively. In 2002 assembly polls NC leader Omar Abdullah lost to PDP candidate in Ganderbal. And  in 2014 assembly elections he again lost to PDP candidate in Sonawar constituency but won from Beerwah in same polls.

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Even NC President Dr Farooq Abdullah was defeated by PDP candidate from Srinagar in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. That year PDP had won all the three parliamentary seats in Kashmir. In a way PDP had successfully challenged the supremacy of NC on the political landscape of Kashmir. But it is also a fact that right now PDP is not that strong what it was in 2002 or 2014 and NC is having an upper hand in most parts of Valley.

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Omar Abdullah recently stated  that why should NC, which had won all the three seats in Kashmir in last parliamentary polls in 2019, leave a seat for PDP to contest. " NC won the Anantnag seat in 2019 election and why will the party leave the seat now for PDP, which  was on  number three position at that time.

PDP is out of alliance  because of situation and not because of National Conference. We have no objection if Congress from its quota gives a seat to PDP  to contest from Jammu or Udhampur ," said Omar Abdullah. He, however, added that PDP is not in a position to win election from there also.

Describing the views of Omar as unjustified, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said that her party having lost in 2019 polls does not mean it will lose again this time." Have not Omar Sahab and Farooq sahab lost elections in past. Did they stop contesting. Situation and public support change from time to time and from  election to election. PDP may be down but is not out. I am a fighter and I will fight," she said.

Mehbooba said NC leadership did not consult her before announcing the decision to contest all the three seats in Kashmir." If Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab had called a meeting and said that his party leaders are insisting to contest all seats or that there was some other reason, PDP would have sacrificed all the three seats. By unilaterally taking a decision, NC  broke PAGD," she said.

PAGD had contested the district development council polls few years back.

Reacting to Mehbooba's views, Dr Farooq Abdullah said PDP should not have any objection to what NC has decided." We are part of I.N.D.I.A bloc and so are they. If we will win three seats,  those will be also our alliance seats," he said.

Fielding of candidates by both parties NC and PDP can give an edge to BJP due to division of votes in Anantnag - Rajouri and Poonch seat. BJP is likely to field its J&K President Ravinder Raina from the constituency. He is a familiar face in Kashmir more particularly in south Kashmir. Raina has been holding public meetings there and interacting with cross section of people. With Pahari community getting the scheduled tribe status now, BJP is expecting their support as well.

BJP too is targeting NC and PDP for their differences and "misleading the people in the name of PAGD." Not only BJP, other parties  including Apni Party and People's Conference too are criticising the two parties.

"PAGD was nothing but a deception created by traditional parties to mask their tarnished faces. They were never sincere for restoration of Article 370 and only wanted to befool the people. Now they themselves stand exposed," said Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, president Apni Party. He said leaders of the two parties will expose each other further in coming time.

Efforts are being made by some  leaders in PAGD to have some kind of truce between NC and PDP. M Y Tarigami, CPI (M) leader and a key figure in PAGD told media that he will try to fill the gaps.

According to him, PAGD is not for electoral purpose but for much bigger issues- which is safeguarding the interests of people of J&K after August 5, 2019 developments. Mehbooba Mufti has also slightly toned down her statements saying she does not want any kind of  "dangal" with NC." Some parties want us to go against each other and fight.

I do not want that Dangal. At least not from my side or from my party's side," she told media. Mehbooba added that she wanted to have unity among various political parties for the common cause of the people.

Despite the slight softening of the stand by Mehbooba, the young leaders of the two parties are criticising each other on social media. The war of words will intensify as the campaigning for polls starts after the issuance of election notification.

Then the senior leaders will also raise their pitch. In the electoral fray the NC and PDP leaders will criticise and "expose" each other to get votes. While doing so publicly in polls how can they justify being together in PAGD and working for safeguarding the interests of people, political analysts say.

Their critics say that when the tallest leader of Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah despite his stature, popularity and long struggle could not get back pre-1953 position, how can PAGD leaders get the Article 370 restored.

However, some leaders believe that mere symbolic presence of PAGD is politically important also. But can the alliance really survive when its major constituents believe that they have to part ways in elections for their own political interests and move on in their efforts for government formation (if possible) with other parties.

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