Putting all speculations to rest, ruling National Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah on Thursday announced only three names, out of six seats, for the upcoming parliamentary polls. Thereby hinting at going to polls with coalition partner Congress with some seat sharing arrangement.
"As long as I am alive I will contest from Srinagar, Dr Mehboob Beg will contest from south Kashmir and Sharief-ud-din Shariq will contest from north Kashmir," Abdullah said during a function held in Srinagar on the 108th birth anniversary of the NC founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Both Beg and Shariq are sitting members of the Parliament right now. The NC seems to have decided to put its bet again on the old horses only and avoided picking up any young face close to chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Abdullah's announcement of candidature for only three valley seats-two in Jammu and one in Ladakh-hints at a pre-poll alliance between the ruling National Conference and the Congress ahead of the parliamentary polls, likely to take place in the first quarter next year.
Right now, both the Congress as well as the NC has three MPs each from the state.
Sources said that there was pressure from senior quarters within the NC to field candidates from all seats in the state, while a section of the NC was asking the leadership not to concede the Ladakh seat to the Congress.
However, it seems Abdullah for the time being, has made it clear that as part of pre-poll arrangements it can allow Congress to retain the three seats without any contest.
Meanwhile, Kashmir's largest opposition party Peoples Democratic Party has also announced candidates for four seats recently-two in the valley and two in Jammu.
The PDP sees a chance of victory in north and south Kashmir, where independents and smaller parties can play a role of kingmakers and shift equations. The PDP is fielding its president Mehbooba Mufti from south Kashmir, which has a support base for her and father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.