PDP favors deferment of RS polls, cites political stalemate

Greater Kashmir

VOHRA-MUFTI MEET | Tells Governor to explore if Centre can postpone elections for some time

Srinagar, Jan 18: Apart from the ongoing stalemate over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed is reported to have urged the Governor NN Vohra to “explore” if the upcoming RajyaSabha polls to four seats in the state can be “deferred for some time,” sources told Greater Kashmir.
Sources, privy to Mufti’s deliberations with Vohra on past Friday, said the latter favoured postponement of RS polls—scheduled to be held on February 7—citing ongoing political stalemate in the state.
The PDP patron, the sources disclosed, asked Vohra to take up the matter (of postponement of polls) with the Centre to explore the possibility “till the issue of government formation is resolved.”
According to sources, the PDP wants deferment of RS polls for some time “because it’s still unclear what permutations and combinations will emerge with regard to the government formation.”
“Voting of legislators in the RS polls is a sensitive matter. It’s about possible alliances and future prospects of a party. So any decision with regard to it can’t be taken in haste. Therefore the PDP has favoured deferment of polls for some time,” they said.
The PDP is reportedly in talks with the BharatiyaJanata Party over government formation in the state in the wake of a hung verdict that the recent assembly polls threw up. The PDP won 28 seats, thus emerging as single-largest party, followed by BJP’s 25 seats from Jammu. The NC and Congress bagged 15 and 12 seats respectively while seven other seats went to smaller parties and independents.
Pertinently, J&K came under governor’s rule on January 8 after Omar Abdullah stepped down as the caretaker Chief Minister. The political impasse over government formation continues since December 23 when the election results were announced.
The RS polls were necessitated as GhulamNabi Azad and Prof SaifuddinSoz are completing their tenure on February 10 while National Conference MPs Muhammad Shafi and GhulamNabiRatanpuri on February 15.
While Azad and Soz were elected unopposed in February 2009 RS polls, Farooq Abdullah and Muhammad Shafi Uri made it to the Upper House in a bitterly fought contest. Farooq, however, vacated his seat after he made it to the LokSabha from Srinagar parliamentary segment by defeating PDP leader MolviIftikharHussain Ansari who passed away last year. Following Farooq Abdullah’s election to LS, GhulamNabiRatanpuri was elected unopposed in August 2009.

J&K’s Advocate General Muhammad IshaqQadri said deferment of polls is the sole discretion of the Election Commission of India which is an autonomous and constitutional body.
Chief Electoral Officer UmangNarula said the poll-body has taken care of all legal aspects while announcing schedule for the RS polls.
Senior counsel, Zaffar Ahmad Shah, opined it prima-facie seems that MLAs-elect cannot participate in the RajyaSabha polls.
 “As the Assembly has been put under suspended animation, it is extremely doubtful whether these elected members can participate in the elections as they have not been administered oath,” he said.
He said validity of their votes is open to challenge and “it can be done on several grounds including non-convening of the Assembly.”
He said the Governor can advise Centre or the ECI to defer elections in view of the situation and “legal/constitutional complicacies.”