It will be PDP-BJP jointly pitted against the NC-Congress combine during elections to four Rajya Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir on February 7.
The battle lines between them became clear on Wednesday when they, on the last day for filing nominations, fielded their candidates for the vacancies arising in Rajya Sabha from the state. While PDP and BJP decided to contest on two seats each so as to avoid any contest between themselves, the NC-Congress after months of mudslinging on each other especially during the 2014 assembly polls, jointly fielded candidates for three vacancies.
For the two seats vacated by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prof Saifuddin Son and which will be going to polls first, all the newly elected MLAs in the 87-member Legislative Assembly will separately cast their vote. The remaining two seats vacated by Mohammad Shafi Uri and Ghulam Nabi Wani (Rattanpuri), will be filled up by MLAs through one single election.
As such, the candidate contesting for either of the first seats will require at least 44 votes to win. Going by the strength of the Legislative Assembly, a candidate will need 29 votes to win either of the remaining two seats which will go to polls through a single election in the last.
Of the two seats going to polls separately, PDP’s Mir Fayaz Ahmad and NC’s Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo will have a direct contest on one, while BJP’s Shamsher Singh and NC’s Nasir Aslam Wani are pitted against each other for the second vacancy.
However, for the remaining two seats going to polls together, the NC has decided not to contest any seat, but support the lone Congress candidate Ghulam Nabi Azad. The PDP and BJP, however, are contesting one seat each and accordingly, they have fielded Nazir Ahmad and Chander Mohan Sharma respectively.
In the hung Legislative Assembly, PDP has 28 members, closely followed by BJP (25), NC (15), Congress (12) and others (7). The PDP-BJP combine with 53 votes can easily get three seats on their own including the first two going to polls separately. However, they will face a tough challenge from the fourth seat as NC-Congress combine put together have 27 members and it can get the support of others including M Y Tarigami (CPI-M) and some independents. The PDP-BJP combine too have the support of two People’s Conference legislators and can get support of an independent from Udhampur.
After filing their nomination papers, BJP candidate Shamsher Singh Manhas expressed confidence in winning all the four seats saying that they have requisite numbers for it. “How, we get it, things will be clear on February 7,” he said, adding that the NC-Congress combine was not going to be a permanent thing in view of mudslinging between them in the recent past.
Refusing to comment on Omar’s recent remarks describing him an “opportunist”, the Congress nominee and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said that both the Congress and NC were on the same page in respect to their ideology and principles and that is why duo had been working together much before country’s independence.
Pointing out that while there was no Congress unit in the state prior to independence, he said that what Mahatma Gandhi and Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru had been doing for the country during pre-independence days, National Conference under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did in the state. There may be some times difference of opinion or clash of personalities between the two parties, but both have been together whenever there is any problem at the national level or in the state, he added.