SRINAGAR:The BJP is in talks with independent MLAs for mobilising their support to defeat senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in Saturday’s elections to the four Rajya Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir.
With a strength of 53 MLAs, the BJP-PDP combine is sure to win three seats. In the fourth seat, the support of independents is vital.
Led by BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, party leaders are working overtime to ensure Azad’s defeat and deny him the Leader of the Opposition status in Parilament’s Upper House.
Sources said BJP leaders had opened communication channels with three independent legislators. “The party leaders are holding talks with three independent legislators -- Udhampur MLA Pawan Gupta, Langate MLA Abdur Rashid and Khan Sahib MLA Hakeem Yasin,” a senior BJP leader said.
“Gupta wants development of his area and we have assured him of all help. We are hopeful that he will support the party candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls,” the BJP leader added.
Azad had lost last year’s Lok Sabha election to the saffron party’s Jitendra Singh, who is currently MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Sources said PDP leaders were also in contact with Rashid and Yasin and had sought their support for its candidates.
Rashid, meanwhile, hinted at supporting the PDP. “My offer of unconditional support to the PDP for the formation of a non-BJP government was in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state while voting in the Rajya Sabha has nothing to do with the affairs of the state,” he said.
If Rashid votes against Azad or abstains, it will spoil Azad’s chances of retaining his Leader of the Opposition status. The BJP and the PDP, which have 25 and 28 MLAs respectively, have entered into a seat-sharing arrangement for the Rajya Sabha polls and will be contesting two seats each.