It's Final, Azad To Contest From Home Turf Doda

It's Final, Azad To Contest From Home Turf Doda

19 March 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Malhotra

Jammu: Ending month-long suspense, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief Saifuddin Soz today officially announced the candidature of Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat. It was due to the intense pressure mounted by party workers and leaders that Azad agreed to contest from the Udhampur segment to check the Narendra Modi wave in Jammu and Kashmir. It will be the first time that Azad will be contesting a Lok Sabha seat in J&K. 'As the JKPCC president, I announce that popular leader Azad is our candidate for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat,' Soz, who reached Jammu from Delhi this afternoon, told mediapersons. He exuded confidence that the political scenario would change after the decision of Azad to contest the election from the Udhampur-Doda seat. Earlier, Azad had been reluctant to contest the Lok Sabha elections due to his pre-occupation with party work. Soz has reasons to say that Azad's candidature is a 'winning proposition' because he has influence on both Hindus and Muslims of this polarised region. The divide has further deepened after the Kishtwar riots of August 9, 2013. Due to his high-profile stature and rapport with residents of the erstwhile Doda district, comprising Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts, Azad could consolidate both Hindu and Muslim votes in this mountainous region, say sources. To present Azad as the most acceptable leader of the region, Soz said both Hindus and Muslims of the Udhampur-Doda segment had urged Azad to contest the elections. 'It was due to the repeated requests of people that Azad has agreed to contest the election,' Soz said, adding that Azad had given his consent to fight elections during the party rally at Surankote on March 15. Azad has never contested Lok Sabha elections in J&K. He has won Lok Sabha elections twice from the Washim segment of Maharashtra. In J&K, Azad had created history by winning the Assembly elections from Bhaderwah in Doda district by a record margin of 58,015 votes in 2006. Azad had got 62,072 votes while the BJP candidate got only 4,057 votes. It will be Azad's first LS poll from J&K Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has never contested Lok Sabha elections in J&K. He has won Lok Sabha elections twice from the Washim segment of Maharashtra. In J&K, Azad had created history by winning the Assembly elections from Bhaderwah in Doda district by a record margin of 58,015 votes in 2006. Congress has reasons to say that Azad's candidature is a 'winning proposition' as he has influence on both Hindus and Muslims of this polarised Udhampur-Doda region. The divide has further deepened after the Kishtwar riots of August 9, 2013.