Tiff Over Baramulla Delays Jammu And Kashmir Candidates' List

Tiff Over Baramulla Delays Jammu And Kashmir Candidates' List

25 November 2013
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: The wrangling between Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling parties - the National Conference (NC) and the Congress - over seat sharing, especially over the Baramulla-Kupwara seat in North Kashmir, is preventing the parties from announcing their candidates for all six Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. “We have told the National Conference that the Congress is interested in contesting in at least one seat from Kashmir. The party has a stranglehold over North Kashmir and would like to contest from the Baramulla-Kupwara Lok Sabha seat,” said a senior Congress leader who didn’t want to be named. The NC’s Sharif-ud-Din Shariq, who represents the seat in Parliament, had won the 2009 elections by defeating PDP candidate Dilawar Mir. In the last Parliamentary elections, the NC won all three Kashmir seats – Baramulla-Kupwara, Srinagar-Budgam and Pulwama-Anantnag – while the Congress won two seats in Jammu – Doda-Udhampur and Jammu-Poonch. And an independent candidate, Ghulam Hassan Khan, won the Ladakh seat. “We cannot surrender the Baramulla-Kupwara seat because it will hurt our party leaders and demoralise our workers,” a senior NC leader said. He said the party had apprised its president and Union minister Farooq Abdullah of the situation and told him that there should not be any compromise on any Kashmir seat. “People of the three Parliamentary seats in Kashmir have reposed their faith in the party. “The NC can’t barter peoples’ faith by surrendering a seat. We are not talking about goods, it is related to the people’s loyalty,” said Mustafa Kamal, a senior NC leader and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s uncle. Despite being a national party, the Congress was trying to show its presence in Kashmir by contesting from a constituency in Kashmir, Kamal said. “It is childish,” he added. However, state Congress vice-president G N Monga claimed the party was in a strong position in all the six Lok Sabha seats. He said the situation was different 10 years ago. “Today the Congress has a good foothold across the state and can win all the six Lok Sabha seats in the Parliamentary elections,” he said. According to Monga, there is a general perception among party workers and panchayat members that the Congress shouldn’t forge any alliance with the NC and contest in all the six seats independently.