Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said that the National Conference left it with no choice but to field its candidates from all three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir, PTI reported.

The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party are both constituents of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or the INDIA bloc. The bloc is a coalition of Opposition parties that is taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the elections.

On April 1, Omar Abdullah, the vice president of the National Conference, announced that veteran leader Mian Altaf Ahmed will contest the Lok Sabha polls from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat. Mufti had emerged victorious from Anantnag in the 2014 general elections. Her father and founder of the People Democratic Party, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has also represented the seat in Parliament.

Speaking with mediapersons on Wednesday, Mufti said that the attitude of the National Conference leadership was disappointing and hurtful.

“When the INDIA’s meeting took place in Mumbai, I said there that since [National Conference president] Farooq Abdullah is our senior leader, he will take a decision [on seat sharing] and will do justice,” Mufti was quoted as saying by PTI. “I had hoped he would keep the party interests aside.”

The National Conference, however, unilaterally decided to contest all three seats in Kashmir, she said. According to Mufti, her party could have decided to not field its candidates in the larger interests of Kashmir if the National Conference had approached them before announcing candidates.

“If they had to take the same decision, if they thought that they had a better voice than the PDP to raise the issues of the people of Kashmir, then they should have told me two months ago that they wanted to contest themselves,” said Mufti.

She added: “But, the way Omar [Abdullah] announced the decision without taking us into confidence, and by saying that PDP has no workers or support so they will not get a single seat, it hurt my workers and broke their hearts.”

On March 8, Omar Abdullah said that his party would not agree to a seat-share deal with the Peoples Democratic Party, reported NDTV.

“I have told you...the party that is number three has no right to ask for a seat,” he said. “If I had been told, before joining INDIA, we would have to weaken ourselves for another member, I would have never joined.”

After Mufti’s announcement on Wednesday, the National Conference leader said that “perhaps she is not looking for an alliance in Assembly elections too”, reported ANI.

“We kept the door open, now if she has closed the door then it is not our fault,” he said.

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. The results will be announced on June 4.