Omar rues Congress J&K ‘walkover’
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday castigated his friend Rahul Gandhi’s party, alleging the Congress leadership had ignored Jammu and Kashmir and given the BJP a “walkover” in the poll campaign in the state.
Omar, who was airing a complaint many in the state Congress have been echoing privately, would be particularly annoyed because his National Conference had left two seats in the state to the Congress as part of an understanding.
Rahul has not addressed a single election rally in Jammu and Kashmir although a handful of Congress heavyweights, such as Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jyotiraditya Scindia, have made public appearances in Jammu.
“The Congress was in with a fighting chance in 4 of the 6 seats & in 3 of these the BJP was the main opponent. It’s inexplicable how the BJP was simply given a walkover as far as the optics of the campaign were concerned,” Omar tweeted.
In Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh, the Congress is locked in a direct contest with the BJP. In the Valley seat of Anantnag, the Congress is competing with the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party.
Voting is largely over in the state, with only Ladakh and the third and last phase of polls in Anantnag left. These seats vote on May 6.
“It says a lot about the Congress party & its approach to J&K. There hasn’t been a single election meeting by its leadership,” Omar added.
He highlighted that the BJP brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, had addressed several rallies in the state. “They may not have come to the Valley but they didn’t ignore the state.”
The Congress was in with a fighting chance in 4 of the 6 seats & in 3 of these the BJP was the main opponent. It’s inexplicable how the BJP was simply given a walkover as far as the optics of the campaign were concerned.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 2, 2019
Modi has addressed one rally each in the Jammu and Udhampur constituencies; Shah too has addressed rallies in Jammu.
The National Conference and the Congress had a seat-sharing agreement covering three constituencies, with Jammu and Udhampur left to the Congress and Srinagar to Omar’s party.
They contested against each other in Baramulla and are doing so in Anantnag. In Ladakh, the National Conference is supporting an Independent while the Congress is in the race too.
The National Conference decision not to field candidates in Jammu and Udhampur was seen as a bonus for the Congress, preventing a division in the sizeable Muslim vote, a third of the total.
With key BJP leader Lal Singh contesting both seats as an Independent, he was expected to divide the Hindu vote and give the Congress an edge, at least in Udhampur where the BJP had won by a small margin in 2014.
Lal Singh had sought votes in the name of “Dogra” honour. The Hindus of Jammu are called Dogras. However, there was a massive turnout in the Hindu-majority districts but less polling in the Muslim-majority ones, which might spell trouble for the Congress.
The Congress’s chances now depend on how large a chunk of the BJP vote Lal Singh was able to slice away.