The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday floated the idea of contesting elections together in Jammu and Kashmir, The Indian Express reported.

National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah first suggested the idea of a joint front of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.

The Gupkar alliance is a tie-up of six parties. It was formed in October 2020 with the objective of reinstating Article 370, which was revoked by the Union government on August 5, 2019. The Article gave special status to erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“I am not an office-bearer of the PAGD,” Abdullah told reporters on Wednesday. “I can give my personal opinion. I would say they should contest jointly. If they ask for my suggestion, it would be that we fight together.”

Abdullah, however, clarified that this was only his suggestion and the final decision would be taken by the Gupkar alliance office bearers.

Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, too, has in the past urged outfits to come together. She had said that her party’s priority was not who wins the elections but to stop the Bharatiya Janata Party from expanding its footprint in the Union Territory.

On Wednesday, Mufti backed Abdullah’s suggestion.

“When you look at the larger picture, larger interests of the state – you see, I still call it a state – we need to do whatever is to be done, whatever is required, to stand up to the onslaught by the BJP government against Jammu and Kashmir,” Mufti told The Indian Express. “We need to stay together, whether during elections or otherwise.”

Mufti told the newspaper that the Gupkar alliance gives hope to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is the need of the hour to stay together,” she said. “We have to overcome our differences, and stand together for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Gupkar alliance spokesperson and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami said a joint fight would be a culmination of the goals of the alliance.

“This is what we have been pursuing, all of us together,” Tarigami told The Indian Express. “This is a reaffirmation, and the assent of the NC leader sends an appropriate signal.”

In December 2020, the Gupkar alliance had bagged 110 of the 280 seats in District Development Council elections. The BJP had emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats.

The District Development Council was the first polls to be held in Jammu and Kashmir after the region lost statehood and autonomy under Article 370.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had announced in February that the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections would be held six to eight months after the delimitation exercise ends.

The term of the delimitation commission was slated to end on March 6 but it was given an extension of two months just before Shah’s announcement.