Omar Abdullah likely to contest Lok Sabha polls from J&K’s Baramulla

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah is likely to contest the Lok Sabha polls from North Kashmir’s Baramulla.

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah may enter the Lok Sabha race. (HT File)
Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah may enter the Lok Sabha race. (HT File)

National Conference district committee has sent a panel of three names to the party high command for shortlisting of candidates for the Lok Sabha seat and Omar’s name figures on top. The others on the list include former NC ministers.

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Party sources said most leaders want Omar to contest from Baramulla, with a senior leader who is also part of the district committee, saying, “We have requested party high command that Omar Abdullah should contest from Baramulla and most likely he will be the party’s candidate.”

With 11.47 lakh voters, Baramulla seat is spread over 16 assembly segments of four districts Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and Budgam.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had won the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but NC wrested it in 2019, with party candidate Akbar Lone winning with a margin of more than 30,000 votes over PDP’s Raja Ajaz.

This time, People’s Conference has fielded party chairperson Sajjad Lone from the seat, intensifying the battle. Omar’s entry into the fray then could turn it into a prestige battle for both.

“If Omar also files his papers from Baramulla, it’s going to be a very interesting fight between two young leaders of J&K who have been vocal against each other. While Sajjad Lone has an advantage of Home turf, Omar will be backed by strong ground level leaders. And both the parties have strong cadre in almost all segments,” Omar Ahmad, a political analyst said.

A senior leader of National Conference said Omar’s candidature will energise NC cadres across north Kashmir.

Lone and Omar have exchanged barbs on various issues. Recently, without naming him, Omar told reporters that Lone could have been behind Engineer Rashid’s detention. This was the first time when the leader openly advocated release of Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid, who has also decided to contest Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla.

Rashid, who contested 2019 Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate, managed to secure more than one lakh votes. And his entry into polls could dent Lone’s prospects as the two compete for clout in the Kupwara segment. Rashid is a two time former legislator from Langate in Kupwara district. Since 2019, he has been in jail on charges of funding terror activities.

Omar, who has recently insisted that his party was a part of the INDIA bloc, but refuses to cede any space for alliance partners in Kashmir.


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