Parties reveal cards for LC polls

*Cong Fields Monga, Bhagat; Dar, Gupta Are NC Candidates

*BJP, NPP Too Okay Nominees; PDP To Decide Today


Srinagar, Nov 15: The ruling coalition partners, National Conference and Congress, Thursday decided on the candidates for the upcoming polls to four Legislative Council seats reserved for Panchayats. The opposition parties including BJP and JKNPP too cleared the names of their candidates for the contest slated on December 3. However, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party would take a final call on names of the candidates on Friday.
While Ghulam Nabi Monga is Congress candidate from Kashmir, the party decided to field Sham Lal Bhagat from Jammu. The National Conference decided to field party provincial presidents Ali Muhammad Dar from Kashmir and Ratan Lal Gupta from Jammu.
The coalition partners have already decided to contest two seats–one each from Jammu and Kashmir divisions.
Sources said in a balancing act to satisfy opposite camps within the State unit of Congress, the party high command Thursday cleared Monga and Bhagat as party candidates. Monga, vice-president of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), is believed to be loyal to State Congress chief Professor Saifudin Soz while Bhagat is an ardent loyalist of Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Bhagat is a resident of Asar, Doda district of Jammu region, a place close to Azad’s home constituency Bhaderwah.
“On Thursday, the Congress high command, especially party president Sonia Gandhi and working president Rahul Gandhi cleared Monga and Bhagat for the two seats of LC,” sources said.
They said the Congress high command was well aware of the two lobbies in the State unit of Congress; they have cleared the names keeping in view the concerns and interests of both camps.
Since Monga is a known face in Kashmir, Bhagat’s clearance has come as a surprise as many senior Congress leaders expressed surprise over the move.
A senior Congress minister, wishing not to be named, said Azad has been trying hard to strengthen his constituency in Jammu especially in the Chenab valley belt and the move to clear the name of Baghat was the outcome of his efforts.
Out of six assembly segments, in Chenab valley, five including Doda, Bhaderwah, Inderwal, Ramban and Banihal are represented by Congress legislators. However, Kishtwar is represented by NC legislator Sajad Kitchloo.
Sources in the party revealed that the choosing a candidate from Chenab Valley has given a tactical edge to the Congress and at the same time it will be projecting the nomination of Baghat as its efforts to empower panchayat in real sense. “There was strong opinion in PCC that as the seats are reserved for rural local bodies, a candidate from amongst Sarpanches should be the party candidate”, party insiders said.
A source in the Congress camp said Monga’s name was cleared owing to the fact that the party has less representation in Kashmir.
Sources within the National Conference said the party high command today decided on candidature of Ali Muhammad Dar as its candidate from Kashmir and Rattan Lal Gupta from Jammu.
The JKNPP, which would be contesting all four Legislative CoZ,|‘äi¬ß,˜O today nominated Muhammad Maqbool Malik and Dr Muhammad Iqbal as party candidates for Kashmir and Aneeta Thakur and Rafiq Chandial were cleared for contesting election on two seats in Jammu.
JKNPP General Secretary and in-charge of Kashmir province Parliamentary Board, Rafiq Shah, said the names were Okayed by the party high command.
While Maqbool from Tangmarg is the party’s state secretary, Dr Iqbal is a senior party leader from Islamabad (Anantnag).
Maqbool had unsuccessfully contested Assembly elections in 2008 and Legislative Council polls in 2009.
Aneeta, hailing from Rajouri, is party’s general secretary from Jammu while Rafiq from Udhampur is party’s vice-president (youth).
The BJP decided to field party leaders Col Uttam Singh Manhas of Jammu and Rashpal Verma of Kathua as candidates for two LC seats in Jammu while Punchuk Dorjee of Leh and Ashraf Ali’s names were cleared to contest from Kashmir division.
The State president BJP, Shamsher Singh, told Greater Kashmir that Singh is party’s state vice-president while Verma is vice-president of party’s Kissan Morcha. “Dorjee is a senior party leader,” a senior BJP leader said.
MLA Langate Engineer Rashid today announced to support two candidates for the elections from Kashmir. The candidates are Shabir Ahmad Rather and Nazir Ahmad War. Both are Sarpanchs.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party would decide on the candidates on Friday. Sources told Greater Kashmir that the party’s top brass including patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and president Mehbooba Mufti were scheduled to meet here this evening to decide on the candidature. However, the meeting did not mature as Mehbooba who was out of State did not return today. Besides, Mufti had gone to attend a party convention in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and returned late evening, source said.
The meeting would now take place on Friday at 10 AM. Sources said there are eight probable candidates- Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Sofi, Peerzada Muhammad Hussain, Aasiya Naqash (sister-in-law of Tariq Hamid Qarra), Nazir Ahmad Yatoo and Yasir Reshi from Kashmir and Ved Mahajan and Vinod Bajwa from Jammu.
“The final four candidates will be decided in tomorrow’s meeting,” sources said.
The LC elections are slated for December 3, more than 35000 Sarpanchs and Panchs would form the electoral college for the polls the results for which would be declared on December 8.
What would make the elections interesting is the fact that Jammu and Kashmir Sarpanchs and Panchs United Forum (JKSPUF) have already announced candidates for all four seats. “The LC seats are our quota, why should we surrender it. We will contest no matter even if we lose,” said Khurshid Malik, Chief Spokesman JKSPUF.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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