RS Polls: Jammu Votes For Valley

16 February 2009
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Just five months after the Amarnath land agitation divided them bitterly along regional lines, the recent Rajya Sabha election was witness to politicians in Jammu voting for those from the Valley. During polling for two Rajya Sabha seats from Jammu and Kashmir last Friday, one of the BJP MLAs cast his second preference vote for National Conference candidate Farooq Abdullah. This, despite the fact that the party had romped home in 11 Assembly constituencies by riding the pro-Amarnath wave. Three Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) legislators, who had all along been critical of both the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party for their Kashmir-centric stance, too, cast their votes in favour of both the parties. While one voted for an NC candidate, two others cast their vote in favour of PDP. In the elections to four of the Rajya Sabha seats which had fallen vacant in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congressís former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Union Water Resource Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz had already been declared elected unopposed. The remaining seats were won by NC patron Farooq Abdullah and its senior leader Mohammad Shafi Uri who defeated PDPís state treasurer Altaf Bukhari and BJP-supported Independent Ashok Vijay Gupta. Farooq got 27 votes followed by Shafi Uri (25) - three more than their total tally of 49 which included three members of CPI(M) and Peopleís Democratic Front, besides one Independent each from the Valley and Ladakh. Sources said one of the votes came from an Independent from Kathua, Charanjit Singh, apart from the MLAs of the BJP and Panthers Party. Chief Electoral Officer B R Sharma said Farooq Abdullahís 27 votes included one second preference vote from a BJP legislator. He, however, refused to disclose the identity of the legislator. The BJP with 11 members had already issued a whip asking its legislators to vote for an Independent and not to go for second preference voting - to ensure that it had no contribution in the success of any NC or PDP candidate during the Rajya Sabha polls. BJP president Ashok Khajuria said they an inquiry is being held to find out who cast second preference vote in favour of NC candidate.