National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Monday said that he will not contest the upcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir as it is still a Union Territory, PTI reported.

Abdullah, a former chief minister of the erstwhile state, said that he will not humiliate himself by entering the legislature of a Union Territory. However, he said that he will lead the party’s election campaign.

“No. I am not contesting the assembly elections,” Abdullah told PTI in an interview. “I will not fight a UT [Union Territory] election. I am absolutely clear on that. I will help my party, I will lead the campaign, and I will do whatever I have to for the NC. But I will not enter an Assembly of the UT of J&K.”

Abdullah said that he will fight for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood.

“I will fight for a full state of J&K with no dilution,” he was quoted as saying. “Then, if possible, I will seek an opportunity to enter the Assembly and play my part there. But, I will not humiliate myself by entering a UT [Assembly].”

In August 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government had abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.

In December, the Supreme Court in its verdict on petitions challenging the Centre’s decision had directed the Union government to restore Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood “at the earliest and as soon as possible”.

The court also set September 2024 as the deadline for the Election Commission to conduct elections for the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly that is to be restored.

The poll panel did not conduct the Assembly polls alongside the Lok Sabha elections and other state polls that were held in April and May. However, on Friday, the Commission issued a notification inviting applications from political parties in Jammu and Kashmir for the allotment of common symbols for their candidates, The Indian Express reported.

On June 4, Abdullah lost the elections from the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat by more than two lakh votes to Abdul Rashid Sheikh, an independent candidate who has been in jail since August 2019 in connection with a terror-funding case filed by the National Investigation Agency.

“If you set aside the fact that I lost, on the whole, I think the NC [National Conference] has a lot to be satisfied for,” Abdullah told PTI. “As far as my own seat is concerned, how can I be anything but disappointed. But that is electoral politics for you. If you are not prepared to lose, you should not file your papers. I cannot say the result was on expected lines. But it is what it is.”

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