Fissures In Coalition30 March 2011
Jammu: Fissures within the National Conference-Congress coalition resurfaced Wednesday after eight candidates, four each from the two alliance partners filed their nomination papers to contest for six seats of the Legislative Council going to polls on April 13. Suggesting complete lack of consensus over the seat-sharing arrangements despite hectic parleys for the past couple of days, the significant development, besides upsetting the vote equations have brightened the chances of the opposition candidates to emerge as dark horses in the contest. Out of the 16 candidates who filed their nominations today, NC and Congress have fielded four candidates each, signalling some serious differences within the coalition. While from NC, Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri and Dharam Bir Singh filed their papers for Kashmir seats, Master Noor Hassan submitted his papers for the Jammu seat. From Poonch which is a reserve seat, Dr Shenaz Ganai filed her nomination as NC candidate. From Congress Ghulam Nabi Monga and Abdul Gani Vakil filed their papers for the Kashmir seats, while Jahangir Mir, whose term as MLC ended today, filed his nomination papers for the Poonch seat, besides Yashpal Khajuria filed his nomination from Jammu. Surprisingly both the coalition partners have fielded their candidates against each other on most of the seats. However a senior party leader said that talks are still on between the two parties to sort out the issue of seat-sharing before April 2, the last date for withdrawal of nominations. “Despite several meetings between the coalition leaders, situation has still not been cleared and hectic efforts are going on to reach a consensus over the seat-sharing”, sources said. Both the coalition partners have held nearly two meetings to sort out the issue and prior to the Soz-Omar close door talks on Tuesday evening, a panel of Congress leaders which includes Minister for Health Sham Sharma, MLCs Ravinder Sharma and Amrit Malhotra had met with NC panel comprising minister for Finance Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammed Sagar and MLC Ajay Sadhotra. Observers believe that the National Conference might have fielded some extra candidates as a pressure tactics on its alliance partner, which was adamant on equal share in nominations. “The matter was sorted out last evening and both the parties decided to field joint candidates. Two seats from Kashmir and one from Jammu was to be contested by NC, while Congress was to field its candidates on rest of the seats. But as the Congress insisted on two seats from Kashmir, the NC had to change its mind,” sources said. Meanwhile three candidates from Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) submitted their papers today which include Muhammad Maqbool War from Kashmir, Ranjeet Singh Jasrotia for Jammu seat and Satish Sassan from Poonch. From PDP Bharat Bhushan Gupta filed papers for Jammu seat, while Ashraf Mir had already submitted his papers on Tuesday. National Panthers Party also fielded two candidates one each from Poonch and Jammu region after BJP refused to extend support to its supremo Prof Bhim Singh. The party candidate Muhammad Saleem and Faqir Nath filed their papers for Poonch and Jammu seats respectively. One independent candidate Abdul Gani Sofi also filed his nomination. The election will be held to elect six members to the Upper House, three each from Kashmir and Jammu regions. Out of three Jammu seats, one seat is reserved for Poonch district. The scrutiny of nominations will take place on March 31 and April 2 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidature. NC is expected to raise the issue with the Congress high command in New Delhi, sources said adding that the intervention of the top party brass is understood to follow to avoid any debacle in the polls. However, observers believe that in case the ruling partners were unable to evolve a consensus over the issue, the opposition parties will have an upper hand. The PDP is already believed to be safe on one seat from Kashmir region, while it can give a tough fight on one another from Jammu.