Sounding poll bugle


Just a day after the Election Commission announced schedule for LokSabha elections, all national and regional political parties sounded poll bugle amidst indications that six LokSabha seats in the State were headed for multi-cornered contest with National Conference showing no interest in seat sharing arrangement with the Congress. The National Conference has cleared the names of party president DrFarooq Abdullah for Srinagar-Budgam Lok Sabha seat, Mohammad Akbar Lone, former Legislative Assembly Speaker, for Baramulla-Kupwara constituency, BR Kundal, former Chief Secretary, for Jammu-Poonch and shortlisted names of Retired High Court Judge, Justice Hasnain Masoodi and Peer Hussain, retired KAS officer for Anantnag-Pulwama constituency. The BJP Parliamentary Board would meet at the weekend in New Delhi under the joint leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah to clear names of candidates for first two or three phases of the elections. Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in first two phases on April 11 and 18.
Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), DrJitendra Singh, who had achieved rare distinction by defeating former Chief Minister of J&K and present Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad in his maiden electoral foray in 2014 and Choudhary Lal Singh, a dissident BJP leader, who had represented Udhampur seat for two terms in 2004 and 2009 on Congress mandate, were front runners for the party mandate for Udhampur seat. Jugal Kishore Sharma, sitting MP from Jammu-Poonch seat and State BJP president RavinderRaina are in the fray for Jammu seat while former Minister Chering Dorjay, MLC and Chairman Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHD), Leh, Jigmet Namgayal were being considered for Ladakh seat. Significantly, Lal Singh and former Minister and three-time MLA, Harshdev Singh of National Panthers Party have already announced their candidature for Udhampur seat. The BJP will also contest all three LokSabha seats from Kashmir, though it has no chances on them.
Significantly, despite alliance, the NC and Congress had lost all six Parliamentary seats with BJP winning two seats of Jammu and one from Ladakh and PDP taking all three seats of the Kashmir valley. Later, PDP MP from Srinagar, Tariq Hamid Qarra had quit LokSabha seat as well as the party in 2016 while Mehbooba Mufti had resigned from Anantnag Parliamentary constituency after being elected as the Chief Minister in 2017. NC president DrFarooq Abdullah had won Srinagar LokSabha seat in the by-election in April 2017 while by-poll couldn't be held in Anantnag segment. The Congress, keeping in tune with the party's national policy to enter into electoral pacts with regional parties to defeat the BJP, wanted alliance with the National Conference as the NC has good number of votes in both Jammu-Poonch, Udhampur-Doda and Ladakh seats. However, in the absence of any kind of truck with the NC, the Congress could field Tariq Hamid Karra from Srinagar and GA Mir, State party president, from Anantnag Lok Sabha seats. It was considering names of former PCC (I) chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, Taj Mohi-ud-Din and Ghulam Nabi Monga for Baramulla constituency. Karra had defeated DrFarooq Abdullah in 2014 LokSabha polls. The PDP is likely to field candidates on all six seats of LokSabha and it was set to finalize names at high-level meeting soon.

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