SRINAGAR:Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s chances of retaining the Leader of Opposition (LoP) post in the Rajya Sabha brightened on Friday with another independent legislator from the Valleyextending his support to him. And the backing for Azad could not have come at a more opportune time, with the elections to the four Upper House seats from the state scheduled to take place today.
“I will vote in favour of Azad,” independent legislator from Khan Sahib, Hakeem Yaseen said. He said he was in touch with Azad and had taken the decision to support him few days ago.
With Yaseen’s support, the strength of legislators supporting Azad has gone up to 29. CPM state secretary and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami has already declared his support for the Congress leader. Azad is the joint candidate of the National Conference(NC) and the Congress for one of the seats.
The Election Commission has issued three notifications -- one each for two seats and a separate one jointly for the remaining two seats. While the candidates in the first two seats will each need 44 votes to make it to the RSS , in the third seat the victorious candidate will have to garner over 29 votes . As per the existing electoral arithmetic, the PDP and the BJP will easily win the two single seats as the parties together have a strength of 53.
Azad will contest as the NC-Congress candidate for the elections to the two seats which will be held jointly under Notification 3. The PDP-BJP combine can win one of the two seats under this notification. However, with the support of two independent legislators, Azad’s chances of winning one of the seats and retaining his LoP status in the RS have increased.