SRINAGAR: Unlike in the past, when there used to be few chief ministerial candidates in Jammu and Kashmir, this time many candidates would contest the State Assembly polls with an eye on the top job.
The political scenario in the militancy-hit state, especially Kashmir, has changed with some politicians attempting to float or form an “alternative force” to challenge the political brand of the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The separatist-turned-mainstream politician and former BJP ally, Sajjad Gani Lone is trying to challenge what he says the dynastic politics of NC, PDP and Congress in the Valley.
Another CM hopeful is former PDP leader and ex-finance minister, Altaf Bukhari who is in touch with three heavyweight ex-MLAs and other PDP disgruntled leaders to form a Third Front.
An influential businessman, Bukhari is in good books of BJP, National Conference and Congress.
The PDP patron and MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig is also emerging as a strong candidate for CM’s post as Mehbooba had failed as a CM.
The NC’s chief ministerial candidate is none other than Omar Abdullah. A political analyst Aadil Ahmed said Omar seems to have learnt lessons from his previous experience as CM.
“He has emerged as a mature politician and may try to correct his image if voted to power. With Mehbooba turning a big failure, Omar is emerging as a strong contender for CM’s post,” he said.
The State Congress is likely to play the second fiddle in the State politics. However, in case the party gets chance at the top post, party’s senior leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in RS Ghulam Nabi Azad would be party’s CM’s candidate.
The BJP, according to sources, is not going to declare it CM’s candidate for the Assembly polls. However, party insiders see Union MoS PMO Dr Jitendra Singh as strong candidate for CM’s post in case BJP forms the government in the State after Assembly polls.