8 Legislative Council seats to fall vacant in March

Aspirants Begin Hectic Lobbying; Coalition Eyeing Bharatiya Janata Party Rebel Votes


Jammu, Jan 1: With eight seats falling vacant in the state’s Legislative Council (LC) by March this year, the aspirants in ruling coalition and the opposition PDP have begun hectic lobbying to secure candidature for a berth in the Upper House.
All the eight LC seats falling vacant in March are to be filled up through polls for which votes are to be cast by the designated Electoral College.
LC polls assume significance as the outgoing members include some high profile politicians like Minister for Medical Education RS Chib and Political Advisor to the Chief Minister, Devender Singh Rana.
Sources within political circles told Greater Kashmir that hectic lobbying has already begun within all the major political parties with aspirants making every effort to secure mandate.
While National Conference (NC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were expected to take a final call on the party candidates by February, well before the notification for polls is issued, Congress aspirants are camping in New Delhi to stake their claims before the party high command.
MLCs whose term is expiring on March 16, include Devender Singh Rana and MY Taing of NC, RS Chib, Muhammad Amin Bhat, Naresh Gupta and Ali Muhammad Bhat of Congress and Murtaza Khan and Nizam-Din-Khatana of PDP.
Out of the total strength of 36 members only two seats, reserved for Urban Local Bodies, are presently vacant. NC has the highest number of 15 members, followed by Congress with 14, PDP 4 and JKNPP one member in the Upper House.
Officials said that all the seats falling vacant were to be filled through elections. While four seats each in Kashmir and Jammu regions were falling vacant, one of the seats in Jammu region is reserved for Doda district.
“Naresh Gupta of Congress is holding reserved seat of Doda district. He was elected to the House after Muhammad Sharief Niaz resigned following his election to the Assembly”, sources said.
If sources are to be believed DS Rana is sure to get the second term, while NC may field a candidate from south Kashmir in place of Taing. There was complete uncertainty in Congress as two rival fractions, each led by Union Minister GN Azad and PCC Chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, were trying to get mandate for their loyalists.
“What is emerging as of now is that none of the party (Congress) candidates may be able to get a second term. There is strong perception in the party that new faces should be given chance in view of the upcoming general elections”, sources said.
Political observes believe that the outcome of the elections would be directly dependent on the number of notifications to be issued by the Election Commission for the polls. “PDP may be able to retain one of the two seats – that too from Kashmir, while for Jammu seat it will have to face strong resistance”, observes said.
They claimed that coalition will have to keep seven rebel MLAs of BJP in “good humor” in order to ensure that PDP doesn’t have any chance on the Jammu seat. “They (BJP rebels) hold the key. If they abstain or vote for coalition candidates, opposition is sure to lose Jammu seat and at the same time it may also face strong competition on Kashmir seat”.
However, Chaman Lal Gupta, who leads the rebel group, says there was “no chance of supporting Congress or NC candidates in the upcoming elections”.
“PDP is another form of NC as such we have no intention to support it either”, Gupta said adding, “We have not taken any decision yet but we are sure that we will play an important role of an opposition group”.
The seven MLAs were ousted from BJP for allegedly supporting NC candidate in previous elections to the Upper House. They were accused of cross-voting in favour of the ruling coalition candidates.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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