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Independents may Derail Azad Chances

Published: 03rd February 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd February 2015 04:17 AM   |  A+A-

SRINAGAR: In what could be termed a setback to senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s chances of retaining the Leader of Opposition (LoP) post in the Rajya Sabha, an independent legislator in Jammu and Kashmir has decided to support the PDP-led alliance in the February 7 RS polls in the state.

“I will support PDP-led government in the state. I will be supporting the candidates of a PDP-led alliance in the Rajya Sabha polls in the state,” independent legislator and MLA Zanskar Syed Muhammad Baqir Rizvi told Express over phone.

Baqir, who had on Saturday attended a dinner meeting hosted by PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti at the residence of her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in Jammu, said his support to the PDP was conditional.

Independents.jpgHe, however, did not disclose the riders for backing the PDP in the RS polls.

The PDP and the BJP, which are engaged in talks on government formation in the state after the electorate delivered a fractured mandate, have entered into a seat sharing arrangement for the Rajya Sabha seats in the state. Both parties will be contesting two seats each.

The National Conference (NC) has also decided to contest two seats, while senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is contesting a seat as joint candidate of the NC and the Congress.

The PDP-BJP combine have a strength of 53 seats in the 87-member J&K Assembly. The separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone’s Peoples’ Conference has two seats and he is going to support the BJP. An independent legislator from Udhampur, Pawan Gupta, a former BJP man, is also likely to support the BJP. And with Rizvi’s support to the PDP, the strength of the PDP-BJP combine has reached 57.

The PDP-BJP alliance is expected to win three out of the four RS seats in the state. There is uncertainty regarding the 4th seat in which Azad is contesting.

The NC-Congress combine has 27 seats and Azad’s fate depends heavily on the five independents. Now, with one of them deciding to go with the PDP and another expected to support the BJP, Azad will have to bank on three Valley-based independent legislators.

One of them, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of the CPM, is likely to support Azad, while two others, Khan Sahib Hakeem Yasin and Langate Sheikh Abdur Rashid are yet to disclose their game plan.

A political observer said chances of Azad winning the RS seat from the state were quite remote because the PDP-BJP alliance already has the support of two independent legislators and two members of Lone’s PC.

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