Alliance Safe On 6 Seats, PDP 1; Fight For One Jammu Seat

Alliance Safe On 6 Seats, PDP 1; Fight For One Jammu Seat

6 February 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Election Commission would issue three notifications for elections to eight seats of Legislative Council on February 11 which would make a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), who formed part of Electoral College, eligible to cast three separate votes. Official sources told the Excelsior that Legislative Assembly Secretary, Mohammad Ramzan, who has been appointed Returning Officer (RO) for the elections, would issue three set of notifications on February 11 inviting separate nominations from the residents of Kashmir division for four seats, residents of Jammu division for three seats and Doda district for one reserved seat. Three notifications were necessitated as out of 24 MLCs elected by the MLAs, 12 seats each were reserved for Jammu and Kashmir divisions. Within Jammu division, one seat each was reserved for Doda and Poonch districts while in Kashmir division, one seat was reserved for Leh district, sources said. The Council has a strength of 36. While 24 MLCs were elected by the MLAs, the Government nominated eight for a period of six years. Four MLCs were elected by the Panchayat members (two each from Jammu and Kashmir divisions) and two by members of the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), one each by Jammu and Kashmir divisions. Of 24 members elected by the MLAs, one-third had to retire after every two years. Sources said in view of three notifications, the members would cast votes separately to elect four MLCs for Kashmir divisions, three MLCs for Jammu division and one MLC for a seat reserved for Doda district. The election for eight vacancies would be held on March 7. Out of eight MLCs retiring on March 16, which necessitated the election, Mohammad Amin Bhat and Ali Mohammad Bhat (Congress), Mohammad Yusuf Taing (NC) and Nizam-ud-Din Khatana (PDP) had been elected against four seats of Kashmir division while Devender Singh Rana (NC), RS Chib (Congress) and Murtaza Khan (PDP) belonged to three seats of Jammu division. Naresh Gupta (Congress) had been elected from Doda (reserve) seat. Going by strength of the National Conference-Congress Alliance in the Legislative Assembly, which has 47 members of its own (including two nominated women MLAs, who can cast votes for the MLC elections but not Rajya Sabha) coupled with support of Independents and others, the Coalition was in a position to retain three seats while the PDP could also get one of its nominee returned to the Upper House. Doda reserve seat would safely go to the Alliance as single election would be held for it. However, out of three seats of Jammu region, which would separately go to the polls, a keen battle could be witnessed for one seat as Alliance would capture two seats safely. For third seat of Jammu region, there could be a contest between ruling Alliance and opposition PDP. Sources said seven votes of BJP rebels could also prove crucial for either side (the Government and the opposition). Even their abstentions could play an important role. The election would be open like the Rajya Sabha polls and Election Agents authorized by the political parties could check the votes of their members. Going by the Assembly records, the BJP rebels were also BJP MLAs in the House though the party claimed to have not only expelled them from the party but also disqualified them from membership of the House. However, former Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone had refused to accept disqualification petition of the BJP. Sources said three MLAs of National Panthers Party (NPP) could also play significant role for third seat of Jammu region as their votes would take the tally of PDP to 24. Worthwhile to mention here that the NPP had voted for PDP in MLC as well as Rajya Sabha elections. The NPP with just three MLAs had got its leader Syed Rafiq Shah elected to the Upper House with the support of PDP in 2009 elections. In similar circumstances, the NC-Congress coalition Government had managed to win all three seats of Jammu region by engineering defections from the BJP with seven of its MLAs voting for Alliance candidates. The BJP candidate had polled only four votes despite the party having 11 MLAs. Present strength of the Assembly is 87. As two nominated women MLAs also have the right to vote for MLC elections, it would take strength of the Electoral College to 89. The NC has 28 and Congress 17 MLAs. With two nominated women MLAs also voting for the coalition, the Alliance would have 47 votes on their own. Agriculture Minister GH Mir (DPN), CPM MLA MY Tarigami and Independent MLAs Charanjit Singh Jasrotia (Kathua), Engineer Rashid (Langate), Tsetan Namgayal (Nobra) and Hakim Mohammad Yasin (Khansahib) had earlier been voting for the Alliance. JSM MLA Ashwani Sharma (Bishnah) had either abstained or remained associated with the opposition. The PDP has 21 MLAs, BJP rebels (7), BJP (4) and NPP (3).