56 First-timers In 87-member Jammu & Kashmir Assembly

24 December 2014

Srinagar: The 12th Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir will have nearly 65% new faces as only 31 of the 87 newly-elected MLAs have previously been member the House. As many as 56 winners have been elected to the Lower House of the state legislature for first time, while 26 MLAs managed to retain their membership. Five others have made a comeback to the House after staying out for six to 12 years. Two National Conference MLAs have managed to win the Assembly polls for a sixth time - equalling the record held by their colleague and former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather whose dream run of 37 years as MLA of Chrar-e-Sharief ended with his defeat to PDP's Ghulam Nabi Lone on Tuesday. The BJP, which won 25 seats, has the highest number of first-timers. Twenty-two BJP MLAs will experience their stint in the Assembly for the first time, while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs, have 19 new faces. Six new faces will be part of the 12-member Congress Legislature Party in the new Assembly which will also have five new faces from NC and two from Peoples Conference including separatist-turned politician Sajjad Ghani Lone. Two Independent members - Pawan Kumar Gupta and Syed Bakir Rizvi - are also first-timers in the Assembly. Prominent among the first-time MLAs included banker- turned-PDP leader Haseeb Drabu (Rajpora), his businessman colleague Altaf Bukhari (Amirakadal) and outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's close confidant Devender Singh Rana (Nagrota). Omar was among the 31 MLAs from various parties who have earlier been elected to the Assembly. Although Omar lost the election from the Sonawar constituency of Srinagar district by a margin of over 4,700 votes to PDP's Mohammad Ashraf Mir, he managed to win the Beerwah constituency in Budgam district defeating his nearest rival from Congress by a slender margin of over 900 votes. Omar had won the last Assembly elections in 2008 from the Ganderbal seat but decided to contest from Sonawar and Beerwah this time. Four legislators, Abdul Haq Khan, Basharat Bukhari, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah and Zulfikar Ali, retained their seats for PDP, while three each from Congress and National Conference won for a second time. They are Abdul Rashid, Usman Majid and Vakar Rasool Wani of Congress and National Conference's Shameema Firdous, Javid Rana and Omar. Sukhnandan Kumar and Sham Lal Choudhary retained their seats for BJP while fire-brand Independent MLA from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid also contested successfully. Ten legislators, three each from National Conference, PDP and Congress and one from BJP, won a third term in the Assembly. Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Aga Ruhulla won it for National Conference, Mohammad Khalil Band, Zahoor Ahmad Mir and Javid Mustafa Mir retained their seats for a third time for PDP. G A Saroori, Aijaz Khan and Nawang Rigzin Jora won their seats for third time in a row for Congress, while Lal Singh who parted ways with Congress and joined BJP prior to the Assembly polls, registered his third win. The lone CPI(M) legislator, M Y Tarigami, staved off a stiff resistance and scripted his fourth straight win from the Kulgam constituency of south Kashmir. PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Abdul Rehman Veeri, also from PDP, are the other two leaders who will be in the Assembly for a fourth term. National Conference leaders - former Speaker Mubarak Gul and former forest minister Mian Altaf - along with Peoples Democratic Front leader Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen are the three legislators who recorded their fifth win in the Assembly polls. National Conference heavyweights - Mohammad Shafi Uri and Ali Mohammad Sagar - are the only two legislators who have won for the sixth time, equalling the record held by their party colleague Rather. Although the former finance minister failed to make it to the House for a seventh term, his name will still be heard in the next Assembly as his namesake from arch rival PDP has won the elections from south Kashmir's Kokernag constituency.