Srinagar: Kashmir’s ruling family, the Abdullahs, has given up its traditional constituency Ganderbal to an outsider while fielding Chief Minister Omar Abdullah from Sonawar and Beerwah constituencies.
After much wait and deliberation, the NC on Friday declared nomination of 22 candidates in its fourth list which included former Member Parliament Mehboob Beg, who got defeated in this year’s Lok Sabha polls from south Kashmir.
The party announced Sheikh Jabbar as its candidate for Ganderbal. Ganderbal was considered as home turf for the Abdullah family as the party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah fought Assembly polls from this constituency in 1977. Since then, the constituency was retained by Sheikh’s son and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah till he anointed his son Omar Abdullah in 2002.
However, that year Omar lost to opposition PDP’s Qazi Mohammad Afzal. He later retained the constituency in 2008 Assembly polls.
“The Parliamentary Board under the chairmanship of the working president Omar Abdullah cleared the mandate of 15 candidates for Kashmir and seven for Jammu. The Board discussed the panel of candidates received from the block and the district committees of the party,” a NC handout said.
The NC, however, argued that Omar’s opting out of Ganderbal was a “poll strategy to send a positive signal” in the Assembly polls.
“NC doesn’t represent Ganderbal only, rather it’s a regional party. This time we had promised Sheikh Jabbar to be our candidate for Ganderbal and we ensured it. There was much pressure from people of Beerwah to field Omar Abdullah from there. So it was a calculated decision to shift him from Ganderbal,” senior NC leader Sheikh Mustafa Kamal told Kashmir Reader.
Asked about Omar Abdullah’s personal choice about his mandate, Kamal said that Omar was “persuaded” to contest from Beerwah by party leadership.
“It was not Omar Abdullah’s own decision to fight from Beerwah. Omar was interested to contest from Ganderbal but party’s leadership persuaded him and that he accepted the decision.
“Later I was offered Ganderbal, but I refused for the fact I had nothing there except for tag of NC. I chose Gulmarg for I have vote bank there,” Kamal added.