PDP-BJP Join Hands For RS Polls; NC, Cong Undecided

23 January 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The PDP and BJP seem to have reached an understanding on jointly contesting all four Rajya Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir, which will go to polls on February 7 with PDP declaring its two candidates and two BJP leaders summoned to New Delhi by the party high command for consultations on finalization of names. The PDP finalized names of its two candidates in dinner meeting of party's top brass last night at the residence of PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and made them public today. They are Nazir Ahmad Laway and Fayaz Ahmad Mir, who had lost the recent Assembly elections from Kulgam and Kupwara Assembly seats respectively with narrow margin. PDP spokesman Naeem Akhter announced names of the two candidates today. Soon after the PDP cleared names of Laway and Mir for Rajya Sabha elections, the PDP obtained nomination forms on their name from Returning Officer, Mohammad Ramzan, Secretary Legislative Assembly. Advocate Lalit Kumar Moza and Arshad Ahmed Tantray of Ahmad Nagar, Srinagar today also took nomination forms as Independent candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls. Insiders in PDP and BJP told the Excelsior that both the parties have reached an understanding on contesting all four seats together. As per the understanding, both the parties will contest two seats each. The PDP and BJP would contest one safe seat each and field one candidate each on two seats, where the alliance could face tough contest if NC and Congress put up a joint candidate. The PDP-BJP combine will safely get three seats going by the composition in the Legislative Assembly, whose members comprised electoral college for the elections. They would get fourth seat safely if the opposition is divided. The BJP will shortly name its two candidates. BJP high command has called party president Jugal Kishore Sharma and senior leader Dr Nirmal Singh for consultations before announcing names of the candidates. The names under consideration included Ashok Khajuria, Shamsher Singh, Farooq Khan, Kuldeep Raj Gupta, Sunil Sethi, Chander Mohan Sharma and Vibodh Gupta. However, according to sources, the names of two national party leaders-Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary and Mohinder Pandey, Incharge of all wings of the party, were also being discussed. BJP president Amit Shah will clear the two names in consultations with senior party leaders very soon, the insiders said. PDP spokesman Naeem Akhter said: 'we have only 28 MLAs. On our own, it is difficult for us to win two seats unless all parties contest separately. Otherwise, it was necessary for us to do some arrangement like give and take as we want to win two seats'. PDP and BJP have already been in talks for jointly contesting Rajya Sabha polls and formation of coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources in the two parties said they have reached a broad understanding for Rajya Sabha elections under which the two parties will field one candidate each on two safe seats and two candidates on the seats, considered to be tough in the event of NC-Congress unity. There will be three separate elections for four seats. Sources said the PDP-BJP combine with 53 MLAs on their own (28 PDP and 25 BJP) would easily bag two seats, for which separate elections will be held. The maximum votes required for winning these two seats is 44 while the alliance has 53. Even a unanimous election for these two seats can't be ruled out. However, as far election to two seats was concerned, the NC-Congress with 27 MLAs (NC 15 and Congress 12) with the support of two or three Independents could wrest one seat from the PDP-BJP combine. The PDP-BJP combine can easily get support of three more MLAs including two of People's Conference and BJP rebel Pawan Gupta. If one or two Independent candidates abstain or vote for PDP-BJP combine, the combine can win all four seats. The PDP candidates Nazir Ahmad Laway and Fayaz Ahmad Mir had narrowly lost the recent Assembly elections. Laway had polled 20240 votes in Kulgam and lost to three times MLA of CPM Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, who had secured 20574 votes while Fayaz Mir got 24603 votes in Kupwara seat and lost to People's Conference nominee Bashir Ahmad Dar, who polled 24754 votes. Akhter described the two PDP candidates as young and energetic workers of the party, who have struggled hard to promote the party's interests and agenda. January 28 is last date for filing nominations for four seats of Rajya Sabha while polling, if necessitated, will be held on February 7. Counting will start at 5 pm the same day in the event of elections. Sources said the National Conference and Congress were undecided on alliance or names of their candidates so far. 'There have been no talks between the two parties so far,' sources said, adding both NC and Congress want their candidates to win. While NC wants its president and former Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah in the Rajya Sabha on the ground that it has 16 MLAs (15 of its own and one Independent-Syed Bakir Rizvi, whom it had supported in Zanskar) while Congress had only 12. Sources said Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad also wants to get re-elected from the State as otherwise he would cease to be a member of the Rajya Sabha and lose the status of Leader of Opposition and Cabinet Minister rank. Sources added that NC and Congress could take a decision on January 27, a day before last date of filing of nomination papers. According to sources, with PDP-BJP reaching broad understanding for Rajya Sabha elections, decks have also been virtually cleared for their Government formation in the State, the modalities for which were being worked out between the two parties. PTI adds from New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir will soon have a Government and 'very concrete and very positive efforts' are being made towards that, BJP said today. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav also hinted that talks with PDP on forming a coalition Government in J-K are in progress Stressing that people there had voted for a Government and not instability, Madhav said, 'We are shortly going to have a good Government in Jammu and Kashmir.' He was speaking at an event organised by 'India Today' group. Asked if PDP, which has emerged as the single largest party in J-K Assembly with 28 seats, was on board, he said without naming the party that 'there are very concrete and very positive efforts which are being made towards forming a good Government in State'. He also answered in the affirmative when asked whether progress has been made in talks with allies. 'Yes, definitely', he said. Madhav, who was the party's in-charge for polls in the state and has been holding talks with prospective allies, said the mandate was for BJP to be in Government even as he parried a query as to whether it will be the senior or junior partner in any possible alliance saying that conditions cannot be laid while holding talks. There have been reports that PDP and BJP, which emerged as the second largest party with 25 seats in the 87-member J-K Assembly, have made progress in their talks.