Srinagar: National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah Friday challenged the BJP to contest Lok Sabha polls in the Kashmir Valley, saying he will quit politics if the national party's candidates do not lose their security deposits.

If the BJP was confident of its claims on “development and normalcy”, then the party should field its candidates in the three seats in the Kashmir Valley, Abdullah told reporters at a press conference here.

At the press conference, the party announced that Abdullah would be the party's Lok Sabha candidate from Baramulla and Shia leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi would contest from Srinagar.

When asked about the BJP's charge that the NC, PDP and Congress had done no good work in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said, "I don't think I need to react. Let the people do that. If what the Prime Minister says has so much power, then let them field BJP candidates and seek votes in the name of the BJP.”

"What you (BJP) did on Article 370, what you claim about development or normalcy… then field BJP candidates and see how many votes the BJP candidates would get. Your attempts to prop up A or B or C teams, leave that then. When you say that you have done so much work and that we have done nothing in Jammu and Kashmir, then we should lose our security deposits in the elections," he said.

The NC vice president, who was flanked by his father and NC president Farooq Abdullah, and senior leaders of the party, asked why the BJP was trying so many things to defeat them.

Referring to the reported meeting between BJP general secretary and in-charge J-K Tarun Chugh and Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari here, he said, "What was the need for Tarun Chugh to bring all of these on one stage to defeat us?

“If we have done nothing, people will not accept us. If the people would not accept us, then why are you taking our names in your speeches regularly? In that case, why are you using your agencies against us?" he said.

"If you have done so much, then please field BJP candidates on these three seats (in Kashmir). If they do not lose their security deposits, then I will quit politics," he added.

Asked why he chose the Baramulla seat instead of Srinagar which he has represented in Lok Sabha several times, Abdullah said the assembly segment he last represented – Beerwah – is now a part of Baramulla Lok Sabha seat after the delimitation. "So, I am technically a north Kashmir contestant," he added.

Abdullah said the was strong everywhere and therefore, his fight is not against any individual in north Kashmir or in any other part of J&K.

It is against New Delhi's attempts to prop up, which until recently were proxies, but are now open about their support to the BJP, he said.

"Chugh came here some days

ago. He went to Altaf Bukhari's house. Then asked (J&K People's Conference chief) Sajad Lone to reach there and then gave them instructions there. They are now openly dancing to BJP's tunes," he said.

Abdullah said he is also contesting from north Kashmir as the party wanted to defeat the central government, which is eyeing the Baramulla constituency as Sajad Lone is contesting from the seat.

Asked about Congress' support for the NC in the Valley, he said, "There was a press conference in Delhi. Did the Congress leave any doubt after that?”

The Congress has said they will support us on three seats and we will support them on three seats, he added.

"Farooq Abdullah has already attended the programmes of the Congress' Jammu and Udhampur candidates. I am starting my programmes from Sunday from Chenab valley to prepare my colleagues to work for the success of the Congress candidates," he said.

When asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in Jammu that J&K's statehood would be restored and that assembly elections will be held soon, Abdullah said the Centre was not doing us a favour, adding that it would have been a favour if the government would have granted statehood or held elections before the Supreme Court ruling.

“This has become a compulsion on them to conclude elections before September 30,” he said.

"As far as statehood is concerned, they have failed to make us understand why they took it away. Article 370 was in their manifesto, but where is the justice in downgrading the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir. They have not been able to make the SC understand that decision," he said.

On NC's chances in Anantnag-Rajouri seat, Abdullah said that while the NC was ready to contest, the BJP should be questioned on their plans for the seat.

He said the BJP does not have a candidate but are naming candidates like Ghulam Nabi Azad (Democratic Progressive Azad Party chief) from its “A team, B team and C Team”, and claimed that the former Congress leader has flip-flopped on contesting from the elections.

The NC's candidate for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, Mehdi, said he will try to connect with the sentiments of the people and try to “bring out their voice which they are otherwise scared to express out of fear. Mehdi has been vocal in his criticism of the abrogation of Article 370.

On the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), Mehdi said, “Given the circumstances that we are faced with, I would have been glad if we all were united. We all need to introspect why we parted ways and where we went wrong. We should try to mend ways," he said.

Abdullah said the NC has kept its doors open for an alliance for the assembly elections.

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