In the run up to the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, political equations are fast changing, with many leaders leaving their parties to join new ones.
In Darhal, ex-minister and Congress state vice-president Thakur Puran Singh joined the BJP with his supporters. Interestingly, BJP’s sitting MLA from Darhal, Jagdish Raj Sapolia, has made a move to the Congress.
The two were reportedly angry over their parties fielding someone else from their respective constituencies.
While the Congress fielded Iqbal Malik in Darhal this time, the BJP went with Choudhary Lal Singh in Basohli as it suspected Sapolia of having cross voted against the party nominee during the 2011 Legislative Council polls. Choudhary Lal Singh was with the Congress till recently, and had even questioned PM Narendra Modi’s credentials to lead the country during the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress veteran Mangat Ram Sharma, who represented the party as deputy chief minister in the Mufti Sayeed-led coalition government after the 2002 Assembly polls, has joined PDP along with his son, while ex-mayor and prominent Jat leader Choudhary Manmohan Singh has left the Congress for the BJP. Other leaders — R S Pathania, Abdul Ghani Kohli and Gharu Ram — have also quit the Congress ahead of the polls.
The National Conference’s former minister and ex-MP Choudhary Talib Hussain — a prominent Gujjar leader — is fighting for the BJP from Rajouri this time. Separatist Hurriyat leader Nazik Hussain Shah, too, has joined the BJP.
Despite a steady influx of leaders, the BJP too has been facing dissent. Its sitting MLA Durga Das has joined the Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party. BJP’s Reasi MLA Baldev Raj Sharma is planning to contest as an Independent from the constituency after he was denied a ticket.
In Kashmir, too, many politicians have switched sides. Former J&K chief secretary and member of the Legislative Council Sheikh Ghulam Rasool left the NC for PDP, complaining that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah ignored him.
Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, who was Omar’s chief campaigner in the last Assembly elections, has been given a ticket by the Congress to fight from Ganderbal constituency.
Abdul Ahad Yatoo, who contested on a Congress ticket in 2008, joined the PDP three months ago hoping for a ticket. Denied one, he has now joined the Kashmir Development Front, and is the party’s candidate from Pattan.
District Congress president Mir Mushtaq, who contested the last elections from Baramulla, joined the BJP recently. He is likely to be the BJP candidate from Baramulla or Uri.