by Syed Junaid Hashmi
JAMMU: BJP on Monday ditched its ally Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and got its candidate Vikram Randhawa elected to the upper house of the state legislature in a keenly contested election.
BJP has strength of 26 members while PDP has 29 MLAs in the legislative assembly. The two MLAs of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) have extended support to the coalition but are largely considered as partners of BJP than PDP. BJP, which as per the understanding between the two coalition partners, had to cast one vote for PDP candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar to ensure his victory but the party decided otherwise and preferred voting for their candidate.
Alliance partners of PDP also ditched it. Two members of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC), Sajjad Gani Lone and Bashir Dar alongwith lone independent MLA from Zanskar Syed Baqir Rizvi reportedly voted for BJP candidate. The PDP candidate was stunned and shocked when he heard that there was a tie between him and the BJP candidate Vikram Randhawa. 29 members of PDP voted for Abdul Qayoom Dar.
With independent Syed Baqir Rizvi voting for BJP, their votes tally too reached 29. Thus there was a tie between the two candidates. As per rules, the tie was to be decided with a flip of coin. And as the fate may have it, the PDP candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar lost. On the other side, opposition NC-Congress got a shot in the arm with independent MLA from Udhampur Pawan Gupta voting for their candidate Balbir Singh. With Engineer Abdul Rashid, Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami and Hakeem Mohammed Yasin standing with NC-Congress candidate, Balbir secured 31 votes.
There was no cross-voting either from the parties in power or from the opposition. The parties stood with their respective candidates and voted for their own candidate. But the PDP candidate was shocked and could not believe, BJP not voting for him. Independent candidate Syed Baqir Rizvi’s vote to BJP made the party biggest gainer with 3 MLCs and PDP the loser with one MLC while two were bagged by opposition NC-Congress.
PDP Candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar told Kashmir Life that BJP had ditched PDP. “Despite having agreed to vote for my party, they voted for their own candidate. This is unfortunate. We expected our party leadership to take this breach seriously,” said Dar. “I always knew the contest was between BJP and Congress candidate. The newspapers too reported this. But when I came to know it was a tie, I was shocked. BJP should have told us they would not be voting for us which they did not. This is highly unfortunate.”
With this, PDP-BJP government now has two-third majority in both Houses of the Legislature, which would help it in getting major legislations including the Constitution Amendment Bills that require two-third majority, passed.
Overall strength of the Upper House is 36 but there are two vacancies for the past about six years in the absence of two representatives of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), whose elections have not been held since 2010. Ruling PDP-BJP alliance has 19 seats (PDP 11 and BJP 8) while National Conference-Congress have 15 members (National Conference eight and Congress 7) in the Legislative Council.
However, after four seats were decided unopposed on April 3, the alliance strength went up to 22 as they won four seats (BJP three and PDP one). Both the seats at stake were from Jammu division. After these results of six seats, both PDP and BJP have 11 MLCs. On the other hands, Congress and NC too have 6 MLC each in the upper house.
The ULB vacancies were filled in 2005 soon after the Municipal elections were held in January 2005. PDP’s Nizam-ud-Din Bhat was elected from Kashmir division while Congress nominee Arvinder Singh Micky had won from Jammu division. Bhat had resigned the seat after being elected to the Assembly in 2008 while Micky had completed his term in November 2010 having served as the Deputy Chairman of the Council. As the successive Governments didn’t hold elections to the ULBs, two vacancies remained unfilled in the Upper House of the State for the past more than six years now.
Stating that BJP voted for its candidate, BJP state president and MLA Jammu East Satpaul Sharma said that PDP had 30 votes. “We voted for our candidate since we knew PDP had 30 votes needed for winning the seat. There is no question of ditching our alliance partner,” said Sharma. He clarified that PDP had not approached them for any arrangement with regard to voting.