The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir has stolen a march over the ruling National Conference (NC) by announcing its candidates for all the three Lok Sabha constituencies in the Valley.
PDP's senior vice president Iftikhar Hussain Ansari will be the party candidate for Srinagar parliamentary seat. With the announcement - made simultaneously in Jammu and Srinagar, the PDP has declared its candidates for all the three seats in the Kashmir Valley - Dilawar Mir from Baramulla in north Kashmir, Peer Mohammad Hussain from Anantnag in south Kashmir and now Ansari from Srinagar.
The NC has only announced its candidate from Anantnag - Mehboob Beg, who had lost the Anantnag assembly constituency to PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in the November-December 2008 assembly poll.
After Peoples Conference chairman and separatist leader Sajad Gani Lone's announcement that he would contest the elections from Baramulla, NC party sources in Jammu said that the task of selecting a winnable candidate for the constituency has become difficult.
The party has never lost the northern Kashmir parliamentary constituency, with Abdul Rashid Shaheen being the sitting MP. But the NC is having a "rethink" this time, the sources said.
A candidate for the Srinagar parliamentary seat, which was represented for three times since 1998 by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, is also a big challenge for the party. There is speculation that Omar's father and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah may be asked to contest, especially as Ansari has a sway over Shia votes in the Valley with Srinagar having a considerable number of Shias.