SRINAGAR: Buoyed by the party’s spectacular performance in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the State BJP, which is running a coalition government with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP, is interested in contesting bypolls to two parliamentary seats in Kashmir and sought go ahead from the party’s central command.
“The State BJP wants to contest bypolls to both Srinagar-Budgam and Anantnag-Pulwama parliamentary seats,” J&K BJP’s General Secretary (Organisation) Ashok Koul told New Indian Express.
He said the State party leaders want to contest elections for both the parliamentary seats and have informed the party high command of the matter.
“We are hopeful that within a day or two, we will receive party high command’s direction in this regard,” Koul said.
Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary seat in central Kashmir will go to bypolls on April 9 while Anantnag-Pulwama seat in South Kashmir would witness polling on April 12.
The Anantnag-Pulwama parliamentary seat had fallen vacant after Mehbooba Mufti took over as CM of the State on April 4, 2016 and resigned from the Lok Sabha seat. The Srinagar-Budgam LS seat fell vacant after Tariq Hamid Karra resigned as MP and from basic membership of PDP during unrest in the Valley last year.
When told that the two parliamentary seats were held by PDP, which is coalition partner of the BJP, Koul said, “We formed post poll alliance with PDP for running the coalition government in the State. It was not formed for polls”.
“Since we had not forged pre-poll alliance with PDP, we are not bound to leave the two seats for them,” he said.
Reacting to the development, PDP said BJP was within its rights to contest the bypolls for parliamentary seats in the Valley.
“The PDP and BJP had not formed any prepoll alliance. After fractured mandate in 2014 Assembly polls, the two parties forged alliance to form the coalition government in the State. The alliance is only for the governance purpose,” PDP chief spokesman Mehboob Beg told Express.
He said PDP would contest both the seats.
The party’s powerful Political Affairs Committee (PAC) and senior party leaders including cabinet ministers met at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s residence last evening to select the candidates, he said.
Beg said it was decided that party will field Tassaduq Hussain Sayeed, brother of Mehbooba from Anantnag-Pulwama Lok Sabha seat and Nazir Ahmad Khan from Srinagar-Budgam constituency.
Contesting from Anantnag-Pulwama constituency, which is highly militancy-affected and was epicenter of over five month unrest in Valley last year, would be the first electoral test for 45-year-old Tassaduq, who has been better known for his cinematography of Bollywood movies ‘Omkara’ and ‘Kaminey’.
Tassaduq ventured into politics on first death anniversary of his father Mufti Sayeed on January 7 this year.
Meanwhile, opposition parties National Conference and Congress are likely to forge pre-poll alliance and contest a seat each.
Sources said the two parties are holding deliberations in this regard.
NC’s Core Group held a meeting at party headquarters, here today to deliberate on the issue and shortlist the candidates.
“The Core Group has authorized party president Farooq Abdullah to take decision on alliance with Congress and finalization of candidates,” NC working president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told reporters after the meeting.
The State Congress too has authorized its party high command to decide whether to align with NC or contest alone.
“We have forwarded our suggestions to the party high command and will receive their direction within a day or so,” J&K Congress vice president G N Monga told Express.
Sources within NC and Congress said the two parties are interesting in contesting a seat each under seat sharing agreement. “The NC is likely to contest Srinagar and Congress Anantnag-Pulwama seat,” they said.
Farooq Abdullah, his brother Mustafa Kamal and party’s senior leader Abdur Rahim Rather are the front runners for NC candidature for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat while Congress State chief G A Mir and former minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed are front runners of Congress candidature for Anantnag-Pulwama seat.