With Congress and National Conference having entered into an understanding to contest three Lok Sabha seats each in Jammu and Kashmir,the former in order to retain its hold on Jammu region has asked its ruling ally to leave for it both the parliamentary constituencies falling in Jammu region.
Pointing out that Congress has already decided to field its candidates for Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda constituencies,sources said that the talks were now going on between the two ruling allies as to which of the third seat shall go to Congress. It is likely that NC,after leaving both the Jammu parliamentary seats for Congress,may ask it to reciprocate leaving the three Valley seats to it and contest in Ladakh parliamentary constituency.
During the last Lok Sabha polls,electorates in both the Jammu and Udhampur constituencies had voted for Congress,while Srinagar and Baramullah had gone to National Conference. However,the PDP candidate was declared elected in Anantnag constituency and Ladakh was won by independent.
While Anantnag is the PDP bastion with party President,Mehbooba Mufti,getting elected to the parliament on this seat in 2004 elections,both Baramulla and Srinagar parliamentary constituencies are the strongholds of National Conference. The Srinagar seat was won by NC president Omar Abdullah,while the Baramulla seat was won by NC’s Abdul Rasheed Shaheen in 2004 parliamentary elections.
However with the recent assembly elections giving BJP a clean sweep in the 11 constituencies,Congress will have a keen contest from it on the two seats of Jammu region. BJP has in fact decided that it will contest on both the seats from Jammu. However BJP State President,Ashok Khajuria,said we have yet to decide on the number of seats we will contest from Kashmir.
However with the defeat of the parliament member,Thupstan Chhewang,on the recent assembly elections by Congress candidate and present Tourism Minister,Nawang Rigzin Jora,on the Leh assembly seat,it makes the case for Congress to contest on Ladakh parliamentary seat stronger.
Even as the NC was strong in Kargil district,but for the entire Ladakh region Congress was in a much stronger position, sources said. Former MP and senior Congress leader,P Namgayal,said the Congress was on a much strong position in the Ladakh region than it was in 2002 assembly elections. After the support base of Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) has decreased the Congress is now in a much better position.
On two of the seats from Kargil district,Qamar Ali Akhoon of National Conference (NC) won the election on Kargil seat defeating former social welfare Minister and Congress supported independent candidate,Haji Nisar Ali. On the other seat from Zanskar,Congress candidate Ghulam Raza lost by only a thin margin to NCs Feroz Ahmad Khan. On the two seats from Leh district,while Nawang Rigzin Jora won on the Leh seat,on the other seat of Nobra,Tsetan Namgyal,of LUTF won defeating the Congress candidate Tsewang Rigzin by a thin margin of over 450 votes.
However while the Congress and NC were deciding on the seats they will contest,both the parties will weigh the option of fielding the sitting MPs. Congress MP Choudhary Lal Singh lost the Kathua assembly elections to independent candidate Charanjeet Singh while NC’s A R Shaheen lost the Pattan assembly seat to Shia-leader Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.