With few days left to file nominations, Ganderbal still waiting for Omar's nod

Hindustan Times | By, Srinagar
Oct 30, 2014 12:18 AM IST

With barely a few days left for filing the nominations, the National Conference has not announced the constituency for chief minister Omar Abdullah yet.

With barely a few days left for filing the nominations, the National Conference has not announced the constituency for chief minister Omar Abdullah yet.

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HT Image

While two names Ganderbal in central Kashmir and Sonawar in Srinagar, both traditional strongholds of the Abdullahs are the possibilities, party sources say Omar is in favour of the former. The junior Abdullah had won with large majority from Ganderbal in 2008. While the NC had got 16,519 votes, PDP's Qazi Mohammad Afzal had secured 8,304 votes in the 2008 assembly polls.

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Ganderbal has been the Abdullahs' bastion since 1975 as Omar's grandfather and National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had contested and won from the seat. Omar, however, was defeated from Ganderbal in the 2002 assembly elections when despite being the single largest party, the PDP and the Congress had entered into an alliance to form the government.

"He is likely to contest from Ganderbal only," said a senior party leader who preferred not to be named.

According to party sources, Abdullah has chosen not to disclose his preference till the last list is out. "He preferred to keep people guessing till the last moment," the NC leader said.

Abdullah's uncle and party general secretary Mustafa Kamal, however, said the party was ready with last and final list and announcement will be made once Omar returns from London.

While Farooq Abdullah is unlikely to participate in the assembly polls due to his illness, the party is yet to announce the constituency for Kamal either. Kamal had won the Hazratbal assembly seat in 2008.

The decision to defer the announcements came after the party lost all its traditional strongholds in Srinagar and central Kashmir to the opposition party in the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year.

While the National Conference lost all the three Lok Sabha seats in the Valley, the fact that patron Farooq Abdullah could not retain Srinagar constituency, which has always been represented by the Abdullahs for over two decades came as a crude shock.

The Lok Sabha elections also tilted the balance in opposition PDP's favour after the NC conceded lead to the PDP in 12 out of 15 in the Srinagar constituency. The assembly segments included all seats represented by the Abdullah family, chief minister Omar Abdullah's Ganderbal, his father Farooq Abdullah's Sonawar and Omar's uncle Mustafa Kamal's Hazratbal.

The PDP had established lead in 41 out of 87 assembly segments in the Lok Sabha elections held in May earlier this year.

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    Chief of bureau of HT at Srinagar, Toufiq has been covering the volatile state of Kashmir for the past seven years. Was working as special correspondent in Indian Express in New Delhi, covering health and wellness. Has done human interest stories from across the country for almost a decade.

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