March 2017 News

Coalition 'dharma' In Mind, BJP Decides Not To Contest Bypolls

17 March 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: Notwithstanding statements of senior party leaders to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha byelections on its own, the BJP leadership has decided to support its coalition partner People Democratic Party in the bypolls. An official announcement in this regard is likely to be made after a meeting of the state election committee tomorrow. Highly placed sources said the party leadership had made it clear to the state unit that contesting the byelections separately despite being in the coalition would send out a wrong message, which would help the Opposition. 'The party high command has already asked the state unit to support the PDP on both seats for which the byelections are going to be held,' a source said, adding that 'due to demand of a group within the party for contesting the elections separately, the BJP state unit had put the onus on the party high command to take the final call in the matter.' 'Instead of discussing the Lok Sabha byelections, the state election committee of the BJP in its meeting on Saturday would shortlist candidates for the forthcoming elections to the Legislative Council,' a source said. While March 21 is the last date for filing nominations for the Srinagar parliamentary constituency, March 24 is the deadline for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. The PDP has nominated Mufti Tassaduq Hussain, brother of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, as the party candidate for the Anantnag constituency and Nazir Ahmad Khan for the Srinagar seat. On Tuesday, BJP state general secretary (organisation) Ashok Kaul had stated that it would contest the byelections, ruling out any alliance with the PDP. The Anantnag parliamentary constituency had fallen vacant in June 2016 after Mehbooba Mufti had resigned from the Lok Sabha following her election to the Legislative Assembly from the Anantnag segment. The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after former PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra had resigned from the PDP as well as the Lok Sabha in protest against 'brutalities' on Kashmir protesters during the unrest last year. Tassaduq to file nomination on March 20 : Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's brother Tassaduq Mufti, who is going to contest from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, is likely to file his nomination papers on March 20. Tassaduq - a cinematographer-turned-politician - is the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate from Anantnag and will contest against Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. The PDP has already begun its campaign in the high-profile Anantnag constituency by holding a workers' meeting. The campaign is likely to pick up pace once Tassaduq files his nomination. Mehbooba may address party workers the day Tassaduq files his nomination. The party's Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency candidate Nazir Khan will also file his nomination the same day. 'Ministers Abdul Rehman Veeri and Haseeb Drabu will be in charge of the poll campaign in Anantnag and Altaf Bukhari and Naeem Akhter will be in charge of the campaign in Srinagar,' a party leader said