First ever election to four seats of Legislative Council from Panchayat quota is set for a multi-cornered contest with all major political parties jumping into the fray by fielding their candidates on last day of filing of nomination papers. A total of 44 candidates in two divisions of Jammu and Kashmir have filed nominations, 28 in Jammu division and 16 in Kashmir.
While People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has fielded six candidates including two covering nominees, four nominees of the National Panthers Party (NPP) joined the electoral fray. The BJP has fielded three candidates and the BSP two while the Samajwadi Party has decided to stay away from the elections.
Alliance partners—the National Conference and Congress (I), as per an agreement, fielded candidates for two seats each—one each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions. The `Third Front’ comprising CPM veteran MY Tarigami and former Minister Hakim Mohammad Yasin among others didn’t field any candidate but kept their option of supporting ‘potential and viable’ candidates open, whose names would be decided in a meeting on November 19 or 20.
A total of 33,540 Sarpanchs and Panchs comprised Electoral College for four seats to the Legislative Council in December 3 election. While 15,628 Sarpanchs and Panchs would vote for two candidates in Jammu division, 17,912 Panchayat members would press the buttons of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Kashmir division for an equal number of candidates. Scrutiny of documents would be held today while the candidates can withdraw their nominations till November 19. Election would be held on December 3 and counting on December 6.
Political observers were of the view that Alliance candidates would face PDP nominees in Kashmir while in Jammu division it would be a fight between coalition representatives, BJP, PDP and NPP. Some Independent candidates, mostly Sarpanchs could also bag handsome number of votes, they said.
In Kashmir, People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone has fielded Mohammad Kamaal Malik of Budgam for one seat of Kashmir and decided to support Khursheed Ahmad Malik of Anantnag for second seat. Malik is a representative of Panchayat Representatives Forum of Kashmir.
Independent MLA from Langate, Engineer Rashid has also fielded two Sarpanchs for two seats of Kashmir division.
The National Conference fielded Dr Shehnaz Ganai, a party leader from border district of Poonch and daughter of former Minister GA Ganai for Jammu division seat. Dr Ganai had left the job of Master in Hospital Administration (MHA) to join the politics at the behest of NC top leadership. The NC had fielded her for the post of MLC earlier but had withdrawn here from the race in support of the Congress nominee.
National Conference provincial president for Kashmir Ali Mohammad Dar, filed his papers in Srinagar before Divisional Commissioner, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon.
Congress candidates Ghulam Nabi Monga from Kashmir and Sham Lal Bhagat from Jammu, filed their nomination papers on Friday.
Four candidates of the main opposition party, the PDP filed their papers for two seats of Jammu while in Kashmir two party leaders entered the election battle. Two PDP leaders in Jammu were covering candidates.
For two seats of Kashmir, the PDP has fielded former Minister in Mufti Sayeed regime, Peer Mohammad Hussain and Yasir Reshi. They filed their nomination papers in Srinagar in the presence of top party leadership.