The ruling National Conference's (NC) third list of candidates for the upcoming assembly polls has once again skipped chief minister Omar Abdullah's constituency, fuelling speculations about the differences between the Abdullahs.
The party came up with the names of 16 candidates on Saturday evening after the NC's parliamentary board met under the chairmanship of president Farooq Abdullah and working president Omar Abdullah in Srinagar. Of 87 seats, the party has already announced 52 names.
Though junior Abdullah on August 15 made it clear that he is running for the chief minister's post and not senior Abdullah when he said, "I am hopeful that the next government will be headed by me."
However, sources said the Abdullahs remain divided over the constituency from where junior Abdullah should contest the assembly polls.
Sources said Farooq Abdullah is of the opinion that Omar should contest from central Kashmir's Ganderbal constituency.
Ganderbal, around 25 km north-east of Srinagar, has traditionally been a bastion of the Abdullahs. NC founder Sheikh Abdullah contested most of his polls from the area followed by Farooq.
Even Omar contested the 2008 assembly polls from the same constituency. However, the results of recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls suggest that opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) may put up a stiff competition to Omar in the upcoming assembly polls scheduled to be held in October-November this year.
Srinagar's Sonawar constituency is also doing rounds as a seat preferred by Abdullahs. Senior Abdullah won the seat in the 2008 assembly polls by a thin margin of 94 votes there.
NC stalwart Farooq Abdullah was defeated by a huge margin of 70,000 votes by PDP's Tariq Hameed Karra from the Srinagar parliamentary constituency.
Once a bastion of the Abdullahs, the party remains on a sticky wicket there.
Grappling with parliamentary polls results, where the party lost all the three parliamentary seats in the Valley to the opposition PDP, the party is trying to reinvigorate itself by infusing fresh blood and fielding young faces for the upcoming polls.
In the fresh list of candidates, the NC has fielded Yawar Masoodi from south Kashmir's Pampore constituency. Masoodi's residence came under attack in April this year when he was holding a party meeting.
Similarly, the NC has decided to field Imran Nabi from south Kashmir's Kulgam seat. A postgraduate in journalism, Nabi's father Ghulam Nabi Dar, a two-time MLA from Kulgam, was killed in 2006.