Call it a reaction to Congress’ dismal show at Haryana and Maharashtra assembly polls or their inability to find safe bastions, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president Prof Saifuddin Soz and former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad have decided not to contest the upcoming assembly election.
However, speaking to mediapersons here on Thursday, Soz said Azad and he took the decision much before the Election Commission announced dates of assembly polls in the state. “During a rally at Samba, Azad Sahib, in reply to a mediaperson’s question, categorically said neither he nor “Soz Sahib” were contesting the polls,” said Soz, adding that, “I had then said that if you feel good that way, then I too shall not contest.”
Soz further said that staying out of poll fray had been a “good decision”. “In that case, we would have got stuck to a particular constituency. Now, we are available for campaigning in every assembly segment,” he said.
He denied that Azad was hesitant to contest the election in view of Modi wave across the state. He also brushed aside claims that a sitting legislator had refused to vacate a “safe” seat in Doda district for the former CM.
“Anybody would love to vacate a seat for him, but that would restrict himself to one constituency,” Soz pointed out. At present, Azad is Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. However, his term to the Upper House ends in February.
However, the Congress leader admitted that an anti-incumbency factor prevailed in the state and attributed it to the failures of the coalition government. “We were for the 73rd and 74th amendments, but National Conference delayed extending the benefits to the state. Similarly, Congress fought persistently for issues concerning people living along the borders and refugees from PoK and finally made the state cabinet decide on them,” he said.
Tainted MLA in Cong’s list of 69 candidates
Repeating all its sitting legislators, including a tainted one facing charges of sexual advances on a lady doctor in Kashmir, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Thursday released a list of 69 candidates for the J&K polls beginning November 25.
Shabir Ahmed Khan, who had to resign as health minister from Omar Abdullah ministry following registration of an FIR in Srinagar on the basis of a complaint from a lady doctor, has been repeated in Rajouri Assembly segment. The doctor had alleged that the minister had called her to his office chamber in the secretariat and made indecent advances.
Another candidate in the list is Shohaib Lone who had during budget session of the assembly in 2007 leveled serious charges of corruption against the then party president and education minister Peerzada Sayeed. He has been named as party candidate from Sangrama. Sayeed had resigned as minister following the charges of corruption.
Salman Anees Soz, son of state party president Saifuddin Soz, is the candidate from Baramulla. MLCs Ravinder Sharma (Nowshera), Bashir Naz (Poonch) and Jugal Sharma (Reasi) are also in the list.