March 2017 News

PDP, BJP Reach Agreement On LC Polls; To Contest 3 Seats Each

26 March 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Ruling Alliance partners-PDP and BJP-today reached an agreement on jointly contesting six seats of Legislative Council, the biennial election for which will be held on April 17 and try to garner support of Independent candidates to win five seats though the two parties will safely get four. Insiders in the two coalition partners told the Excelsior that BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, who was in Srinagar, the summer capital of the State since yesterday and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is also the PDP president, today reached an agreement to jointly contest three seats each of the Legislative Council. The PDP and BJP will contest two safe seats each and field candidates on one seat each, which were unsafe for the Alliance. However, the BJP's proposed move to surrender safe seat of Jammu to PDP in lieu of another safe seat of Kashmir evoked strong resentment among the party cadre, which felt that the BJP should have contested safe seat of Jammu, where party has 25 MLAs instead of taking a seat of Kashmir, where party has no major political base. The BJP has recently given 3 out of 7 posts of PSEs' vice chairpersons to Kashmir at the cost of dedicated and senior leaders of Jammu, who were associated with the party for decades. The Election Commission of India will hold three separate elections for six seats of the Council. While one election will be held for three seats of Kashmir division, another election will be conducted for two seats of Jammu division. The third election will be on lone seat reserved for Poonch. Going by the composition of Electoral College (89 Members of the Legislative Assembly including 87 elected and two nominated women), Alliance candidates will be safe on four seats including two seats of Kashmir and one seat each of Jammu and Poonch. Insiders said there was consensus among top leadership of the BJP and PDP that they would share two seats each out of four, which they will win hands down and contest one seat each, which were unsafe and could go to the Opposition-National Conference and Congress, which will also contest the election jointly. Two seats of Kashmir division, one seat of Jammu division and lone seat of Poonch district are totally safe for the ruling Alliance partners and they will share two each. While third seat of Kashmir will go to the Opposition if NC and Congress contest jointly, the four Independent MLAs will hold key on second seat of Jammu. PDP and BJP have 58 MLAs in the Assembly while NC and Congress have 27. Four MLAs are Others and Independents. While Alliance will win one seat of Jammu with 30 votes, it would have 28 votes surplus for second seat. NC and Congress have 27 votes. Four Indepen-dents and Others including MY Tarigami (CPM), Hakim Mohammad Yasin (PDF), Pawan Gupta (Udhampur) and Engineer Rashid (Langate) will decide fate of Jammu region's second seat and their votes will be crucial for the victory of both Alliance partners as well as Opposition. While PDP-BJP will need support of two Independent MLAs to make it 30 for victory of their second candidate, the NC-Congress will have to muster support of three Independent MLAs to wrest the seat from the Alliance. Sources said the two ruling partners will take a decision tomorrow on which of the two safe seats each they would contest and, accordingly, they will finalize names of the candidates. The PDP has called its meeting in Srinagar tomorrow to name the candidates while BJP high command will finalize the names anytime now. PDP is almost sure to give one of the Kashmir seat to Yasir Reshi, who is retiring on April 19 but had only two-year term. Sources said the Opposition National Conference and Congress have also decided to contest one seat each from Kashmir and Jammu regions. However, the Opposition was planning to force contest on all seats by fielding more candidates. Both NC and Congress want to contest the seat of Kashmir region, which was safe for the Opposition but a decision will be taken in the next couple of days after telephonic conversation between AICC (I) vice president Rahul Gandhi and NC working president Omar Abdullah. The Upper House has total strength of 36 but presently it is 34 in view of two vacancies due to non-holding of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) elections. The ULBs send two representatives to the Legislative Council. Eighty-nine members of the Legislative Assembly (87 elected and two nominated women) comprised Electoral College for the MLC elections. The PDP-BJP Alliance will be comfortable on four seats including two from the Kashmir region, one from Jammu region and lone seat reserved for Poonch district. The National Conference and Congress will be safe on one seat of Kashmir as election will be held for three seats and can muster another seat from Jammu, where election will be held for two seats, with the support of four Independent MLAs, who have been opposing the working of PDP-BJP Government. Of 89 MLAs (87 elected and two nominated women MLAs), who comprised Electoral College for the MLC elections, PDP-BJP has confirmed support of 58 MLAs including 28 of PDP, 25 BJP, two from People's Conference, two Nominated women MLAs and Independent MLA from Zanskar (Kargil district) Bakir Hussain Rizvi, who has the status of Minister of State as head of the Board. On the other, National Conference and Congress have 27 MLAs (NC 15 and Congress 12) while there are four Other and Independent MLAs including Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami (CPM), Hakim Mohammad Yasin, Engineer Abdul Rashid and Pawan Gupta. All of them generally oppose working of PDP-BJP Government and their votes could fetch National Conference one seat of Jammu region if the party candidate polled 30 or 31 votes. NC will, however, be safe on one seat of Kashmir, where election will be held for three seats. Of six retiring MLCs, five would be completing their six year full term while Yasir Reshi of PDP will have only two year term as he was elected to the Council against a vacancy caused by the resignation of one of the MLCs. Three NC MLCs will complete their term on April 19 including Dharamvir Singh Oberoi, Dr Bashir Ahmad Veeri and Master Noor Hussain. Oberoi had recently passed away but his term was due to end on April 19. Two Congress MLCs including Jehangir Mir, Deputy Chairman, Legislative Council and Jugal Kishore Sharma, former Minister will also be completing their term on April 19. The Legislative Council has strength of 36 but there are two vacancies for the past more than six years now, which couldn't be filled due to non-holding of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) elections in Jammu and Kashmir. One vacancy each in the Council is reserved for the Jammu and Kashmir divisions, which had to be filled by elected Corporators and Councilors. The ULB vacancies were filled in 2005 after the Municipal elections were held in January 2005. PDP's Nizam-ud-Din Bhat was elected from Kashmir division while Congress nominee Arvinder Singh Micky had won from Jammu division. Bhat had resigned the seat after being elected to the Assembly in 2008 while Micky had completed his term in November 2010 having served as the Deputy Chairman of the Council.