BJP on Tuesday asserted that no government in Jammu and Kashmir was possible without the party being part of it, even as a two-member party delegation met Governor NN Vohra to discuss the matter and said it would submit a formal proposal to him on January 1.”Efforts are on (for the formation of the government). Without us, no government is possible in the state,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who met the Governor, along with party state unit chief and MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, told reporters.”We have to be a part in the government, we are discussing and let’s see what happens,” Madhav said and refused to divulged what transpired in the meeting with the Governor saying “it was just a courtesy visit”.A day after the PDP came out with the idea of a “grand alliance” with its arch-rival National Conference and the Congress to form the government, BJP slammed the plan as a “betrayal” with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.Speaking to reporters, BJP state unit chief Sharma said, “Party leaders will meet the Governor on January 1 to hand him our proposal. Today’s meeting with the Governor can be seen a part of the ongoing process of government formation.” “The process of government formation is on and during this process people keep on meeting but our formal meeting with the Governor is scheduled for January 1 when the BJP will be submitting its proposal to the Governor,” he said.Asked about the PDP’s grand alliance plan, Sharma said, “Though I am not aware about the formation of any such alliance, but if any such alliance is formed, it would be a betrayal with the people of state as BJP got the maximum share of votes in the elections”.The Assembly elections threw up a fractured verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member Assembly and BJP the second largest party with 25 seats. National Conference won 15 seats and Congress 12.Smaller parties and independents together won seven seats.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Politics is making strange bed fellows in Jammu and Kashmir, as contours of the next government in the state remained hazy. The BJP’s bid for a Hindu chief minister seems to have pushed the Kashmir-based party National Conference to offer unconditional support to its arch rival, PDP.The PDP with 28 seats and NC with 15 would run short by just one seat for the required 44 in the 87-member assembly. A PDP-NC alliance would upset the BJP’s calculations of having a stake in government in Srinagar.After its efforts to tie-up with NC came to a deadlock, the BJP had opened channels of negotiations with PDP. Sources told dna that PDP has set half a dozen tough conditions, including a full six year term for its chief minister, status quo on Article 370 and withdrawal of AFSPA in some areas. This would mean that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed should be chief minister for the entire term, a condition which is unlikely to be acceptable to the BJP, which has won 25 seats, three less than the PDP.The PDP also wanted non-interference of Jammu ministers in Kashmir development, additional 9800 crore flood relief and a cabinet berth at the Centre. BJP leader Ram Madhav, who is in Srinagar, held talks with PDP’s number two leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig, sources said.The BJP, in its attempts to have its own chief minister in Srinagar, was keen on an alliance with the National Conference which has 15 seats. However, there were strong reservations in the NC against accepting a deal where the BJP would have a Hindu chief minister.The BJP’s confidence of being in government stemmed from its calculations that no combination would have the numbers without the saffron party. Claiming the support of five other MLAs, BJP sources said the party could claim more numbers than the PDP. The PDP and Congress, with just 12 seats, would be short of four seats for majority. The Congress has a disadvantage of not having a single Hindu MLA.NC’s Devendra Rana said the party had offered unconditional support to the PDP, which was the single largest party. However, the ball was now in the PDP’s court. Sources said on Thursday, the NC leadership reiterated the feeler to the PDP through a “common acquaintance.” They said the party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed “appreciated the gesture” of Omar and “assured to hold consultations within”.However, PDP sources said the party was yet to receive any formal letter offering support. PDP spokesperson Sameer Koul said that deliberations on government formation are going on with BJP and if the deal materializes, Sayeed will be the chief minister of the state for six years.Amid uncertainty over government formation in a fractured mandate, the PDP is in the process of preparing an “agenda” which it would place before other political parties willing to work with it before forming any alliance. Informed sources said the PDP was “not in a hurry” to stake claim to the government formation.The main focus of the agenda would be on resuming the dialogue process between New Delhi and Islamabad for moving ahead on larger Kashmir issue. In this regard, the PDP has tasked an internal committee to frame the agenda.
Outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday asked PDP not to play “mind games” on the issue of support from his party, National Conference (NC), and said only a “verbal offer” had been conveyed.The tweet from Omar came after the Valley was agog with rumours that NC had extended a letter of support to the PDP, arch rival of his party. “Looks like PDP is playing mind games with the BJP leaking about a letter of NC support that doesn’t exist. Only a verbal offer conveyed,” he tweeted. Omar, who party has 15 MLAs, made a surprise offer after the election results were announced on December 23 by extending his party’s support to PDP, which has 28 MLAs, in government formation.National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu had earlier said, “We have conveyed our offer of support to the PDP through channels of communication with that party.” “We have not sent any letter but it is a serious and formal offer of support to the single largest party for government formation,” he added. PDP spokesman Nayeem Akhtar, however, said his party has not received any communication from the National Conference and will deliberate whenever it does so.In Jammu, National Conference’s provincial president Devender Singh Rana also said, “Our president has said and we still maintain that if PDP comes forward to form the government we are ready to extend our support to them.” “We will support them completely,” Rana, who has been elected as MLA from Nagrota Assembly seat, said. He said PDP was the single largest party and it must come forward to provide the people of the state with a stable government. “If they accept the support, a stable government can be formed in the state,” he said.
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.
Omar did not categorically rule out extending support to either BJP or the PDP for forming the government but the leaders from these parties will have to approach him.”I am not going to visit Mufti’s residence (to offer support). Amit Shah has not called,” he said.None of the newly-elected PDP MLAs, 19 of them first timers, are willing to make a comment on government formation maintaining that the top brass of the party will take a decision on the matter. BJP, which has 25 MLAs, on its part has made it clear that it is pushing for being part of the government and also made public that they should get the Chief Ministerial post in whatever coalition comes up.”It is a historic victory of BJP, it is the victory of the people of the state and we will work for the people who showed their confidence in us. I tell you that the next Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir will be from BJP,” state president of the party and MP from Jammu Jugal Kishore Sharma said in Jammu.A National Conference spokesman said it was for the PDP to respond to the party’s offer of support for forming the next government in the state.”Omar has said that National Conference would consider extending support to PDP if such a support is sought so that PDP’s political agenda, as specified by PDP during the elections, is not alleged to be handicapped in some way by PDP choosing to align with either of the two national political parties.”We have made a gesture of support to PDP about considering extending support to them if they approach us,” NC Spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said in a statement issued on Wednesday.Congress, which has 12 MLAs, has offered unconditional support to the PDP to form the new government. The seven MLAs from smaller parties and independents may play a key role in the next government formation. Peoples Conference headed by separatist-turned- mainstream politician Sajad Ghani Lone with two seats, independent MLA from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid and PDF chairman Hakeem Mohammad Yasin are reportedly being wooed both by PDP and BJP in a bid to stitch up an alliance where they can do without each other.However, these reports could not be verified as even Lone, Yaseen and Rashid have remained out of reach since the results were declared on Tuesday.
Omar Abdullah, who on Wednesday resigned as Chief Minister indicated that his National Conference could play a part in government formation in Jammu and Kashmir after the election threw up a hung assembly.At the same time, the NC leader said the onus of government formation lies primarily on BJP and PDP and his party will adopt a wait and watch approach. Recalling that in 2002 NC with 28 MLAs had opted from first day to stay out of the government formation and “it became very easy for Mufti Sayeed with 16 MLAs to form the government”, he said, “Today I am not in any mood to make it easy for other parties to form a government. Let us see what happens.””It is the duty of PDP and BJP to form the government. Let us see what they will do,” he told reporters after submitting his resignation to Governor NN Vohra. He said the NC has had no discussions with anybody on government formation. “There is no reason for us to keep anyone in or out of power. As I have been saying since yesterday it is not the duty of National Conference (NC) to form the government nor it is duty of NC to help anyone form the government,” Omar gave similar hints with his tweets when he said, “Incidentally in 2002, Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) became Chief Minister with 16 MLAs and NC with 28 (MLAs) sat in opposition. So excuse me if I don’t oblige by rolling over to play dead.”While PDP emerged as the single largest party in the assembly with 28 seats, it fell way short of the 44-seat mark in the 87-member house needed for forming the government. BJP won 25 seats followed by National Conference (15) and Congress 12, while other parties and independents bagged seven seats.Omar also took a dig at PDP saying while his party was pleased with its performance, PDP which has more seats must be feeling defeated as its result did not match the “hype”. “NC has 15+2 (independents) and we are very pleased, PDP has 28 and Mufti Sb (sahib) hasn’t been seen, much less heard. Clearly the more you have the more you want,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.”Expectations were hyped and twisted to such an extent that now 17 feels like a victory and 28 a defeat. Go figure!” he added. Speaking to reporters, Omar said, “Remember in 2002, NC had 28 MLAs and we opted from first day to stay out of the government formation and it became very easy for Mufti Sayeed with 16 MLAs to form the government and stay in the power for three years and rest period to Congress-NC coalition. “Today I am not in any mood to make it easy for other parties to form a government. Let us see what happens.”
PDP candidate Mohammad Ashraf Mir celebrates his win over chief minister Omar Abdullah
A long alley from the gate to lawn was filled with women singing wanwun (Kashmiri folklore sung mostly during marriages). A stream of men waving green PDP flags was jostling to garland Mohammad Ashraf Mir who stood quiet in the middle of his lawn to welcome the guests personally.An MBA from Bangalore University, 44-year-old Mir became the man of the match on Tuesday when he defeated Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is also the working president of National Conference, in his own backyard.”It is the victory of my people. All credit goes to my people who worked hard for my success. I give it to my supporters who stood by me and with the result I uprooted Omar Abdullah from this constituency,” Mir told dna.Mir landed in the wonderland of politics in 2009 when he contested against National Conference leader Mohammad Yasin Shah in the byelection from Sonawar constituency. The seat was vacated by Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah after he was elected to Rajya Sabha.”I had won the seat at that time but then I was shown the migrant voters. They first announced my victory and later said I have lost (because of migrant voters). I should thank Allah because I learned from that experience and started from the ground level,” he said.Father of son and a daughter, Mir did his schooling from Srinagar before moving out of the state for higher education. Destiny took him to Bangalore where he completed his MBA before returning to Kashmir.Unlike his rival Omar, Mir is the first generation politician in his family. A scion of a prominent business family of Athawajan, he joined People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and rose to the rank of its district president for Srinagar.Seeing his political acumen and skills, PDP made him the Member of Legislative Council (MLC). But his heart was lying somewhere and he wanted to avenge the defeat of 2009 when he lost by a whisker.”I took politics as a challenge because Sonawar constituency had been neglected. I did not belong to political family. We are a business family which had no connection whatsoever with politics,” he said.Come September 2014, Mir was again in the spotlight as Sonawar was badly hit by the floods. His own house was submerged but he did not stop here. Mir took the floods as a challenge and worked hard to provide succour to the affected people.”I was with the people providing them relief. We did not play politics with relief unlike National Conference. We roped in Masjid Intizamia (mosque management) and gave relief to poor,” he said.Mir smelled the victory when shaky Omar deserted Ganderbal and chose Sonawar in Srinagar and Beerwah in Budgam to save his political fortunes. “They were not sure where from they will win and lose. We were pretty sure that we will win Sonawar,” he said.No sooner the results were announced Omar took to twitter to congratulate Mir for his success. “Congratulations to Ashraf Mir for his victory in Sonawar. I wish him & the people all good luck for the next six years. He’s now my local MLA,” he tweeted.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will submit his resignation on Wednesday when he will make a customary call on state Governor N N Vohra.The chief minister, whose party National Conference won 17 seats, including two independents from Zanskar and Udhampur supported by his party, gave the indication about his resignation on microblogging site Twitter.”…my bio (biodata) will change once I’ve called on the Governor tomorrow,” he tweeted.The 44-year-old Omar recalled his previous election and said that he was very nervous a day before counting in 2008. “6 years ago I was nervous as hell the night before counting, this time I’m strangely calm. What will be will be & I’ll be a happy person,” he said.
Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s record run in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly ended on Tuesday when he lost from Charar-e-Sharief while his National Conference colleague Ali Mohammad Sagar equalled his feat of sixth consecutive victories by winning Khanyar seat.Rather, who represented Charar-e-Sharief constituency for a record 36 years in the Assembly, lost to PDP candidate and former Legislative Council chairman Ghulam Nabi Lone. Rather, who last lost an election in 1972, was defeated by Lone by over 5,000 votes. Rather had won six consecutive assembly elections from Charar-e-Sharief constituency in central Kashmir Budgam district.It was third time lucky for Lone who unsuccessfully contested against Rather in 2002 and in 2008. While Rather won by 3,755 votes in 2002, he emerged victorious by 6,375 votes in 2008. Born at Badipora village of Chadoora, Rather (59) was first elected to the assembly from the constituency in 1977.A law graduate, Rather was a practising lawyer from 1971 to 1982 and held important portfolios in the National Conference governments including the post of Speaker. He also served as Finance Minister several times besides holding Agriculture, Rural development, Law and parliamentary affairs portfolios.Earlier, the constituency was represented by National Conference leader Bakshi Abdul Rashid in 1957 and 1962 and Congress leader Abdul Quyoom in 1967 and 1972. National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar won the Khanyar assembly seat by over 1200 votes, staving off stiff competition from PDP candidate and former trade union leader Khurshid Alam. This is Sagar’s sixth consecutive win in the assembly polls, equalling the record held by Rather.
Counting of votes in Jammu and Kashmir for 87 seats, which witnessed a record turnout in the multi-cornered contests to elect their assemblies began on Tuesday morning amid tight security arragement.BJP took an early lead, while PDF is giving nect to neck fight to BJP. However, Congress and National Conference which parted ways ahead of polls are down. The five-phase election, which saw 66% voting – the highest turnout after 1987 despite boycott calls by separatists and militants, will be a litmus test as much for BJP, which is making its first serious foray in Jammu and Kashmir to form a government, as for Congress, which will be hoping to stay relevant in the state politics following the massive rout in Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who led NC’s bid to retain power, and Opposition PDP’s chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates.Latest UpdatesLatest leads: Jammu and Kashmir: BJP 22 | PDP 19 | JKNC 11 | Congress 10 | Others 49:42 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Chief Minister Omar Abdullah trailing by over 1800 votes from PDP candidate Mohammad Ashraf Mir in Sonawar http://dnai.in/cviU9:40 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014- Surinder Choudhary of PDP is leading over BJP candidate Ravinder Raina by a margin of 2377 votes in Nowshera constituency.- Chander Prakash Ganga of BJP is leading over former Minister and NC candidate S S Slathia from Vijaypur constituency by a margin of 1989 votes.- Devinder Kumar Manyal of BJP is leading over former minister and JKNPP candidate Yashpal Kundal by a margin of 3369 votes in Samba constituency.9:27 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014BJP leading on 21 seats in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by 15 seats of PDP. Neck to neck battle between BJP-PDP. Congress down with 4 seats compare to previous election.9:12 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Leads so farBJP’s Hina Bhat leading from Amirakadal Jammu : BJP leading on 7 seats, Congress on 2, PDP on 1 seat.kashmir : National Conference leading on 6 seats, Congress on 2, BJP on 1, PDP on 4 and others on 2 seatsLadakh: BJP aand Congress on 1 seat each. 9:03 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Early leads: BJP: 8, Congress: 6, JK National Conference: 5, PDP: 38:56 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Chief Minister Omar Abdulla leading from Beerwah; Mufti Sayeed from Anantnag. Congress – BJP locked in close fight.PDP and National Conference down with one seat compare to 2008 assembly polls.8:48 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Jammu and Kashmir trends so for- BJP: 6, Congress: 3, National Conference: 2, PDP: 18:43 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014BJP leading on six seats in Jammu and one in Kashmir Valley. Congress holding position as of now. 8:35 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Omar Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) leading on one seat. In 2008 NC had won 28 seats8:32 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014BJP down two seats from Lok Sabha in early trends.8:22 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Congress and BJP takes early lead in two seats. 7:50 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014Exit and opinion polls point out that both in Jharkhand, Jammuu and Kashmir BJP is doing exceedingly well, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra7:45 IST Tuesday, 23 December 20147:11 IST Tuesday, 23 December 2014While Omar contested from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district.Most of the observers will keenly watch the result of Handwara Assembly constituency in north Kashmir Kupwara district where separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is trying his Most political observers and opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. There are speculations about various political parties trying to work out an alliance, depending on the numbers thrown up tomorrow.Omar’s National Conference, which was the single-largest part in 2008 polls winning 28 seats, is facing an uphill task to retain its position.PDP, which had 21 members in the 11th Assembly, is expecting to be the single-largest party, riding on the anti-incumbency and anger among the flood victims.In 2008 polls, National Conference had won 28 seats, Congress 17 and PDP 21. BJP had 11, Panthers’ Party 3 and CPM had one.Independents had bagegd six seats.
More than 800 contestants in Jammu and Kashmir will spend a couple of nervous nights till December 23 when counting of votes for elections to the 12th Legislative Assembly will be held, after a record turnout in the five-phase polls in the state.Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Opposition PDP’s chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates, who are seeking election from the 87 constituencies.While Omar is contesting from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district. Most of the observers will keenly watch the result of Handwara Assembly constituency in north Kashmir Kupwara district where separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is trying his luck.Most political observers and opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly in the state with no party getting a clear majority. Rumours are afloat about various political parties trying to work out an alliance, depending on the numbers thrown up post the declaration of results on Tuesday.BJP has launched a scathing attack on its rival Congress on the national scene, and both regional players — National Conference and PDP. These parties, while hitting out at BJP, have not spared each other as well.National Conference and Congress, which were coalition partners for the past six years in the state but decided to go alone in the Assembly polls, fought a bitter war of words during the election campaign.PDP, which ruled the state from 2002 to 2008 in coalition with Congress, also criticised its opponents.The ongoing elections will be a litmus test as much for BJP, which is making its first serious foray in Jammu and Kashmir to form a government, and Congress, which will be hoping to stay relevant in the state politics following the massive rout in Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.BJP launched an aggressive campaign as part of its ‘Mission 44+’ — the magic number required for simple majority in the state Assembly — during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders of the party addressed election rallies across the state. The results will be a reflection of BJP’s assessment of its chances of making inroads into the only Muslim-majority state of the country.The party did not name a chief ministerial candidate. BJP had 11 MLAs in the 11 Legislative Assembly and any increase in the tally this year will be claimed as a Modi victory. Omar’s National Conference, which was the single-largest part in 2008 polls winning 28 seats, is facing an uphill task to retain its position. While the NC is already claiming a victory, some party leaders are giving away a sense of uneasiness over the results. Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, uncle of the current chief minister, said, National Conference will sit in the opposition, if it did not have the numbers to form the next government. Congress, which had 17 MLAs, on the other hand has softened the election rhetoric. Instead of claiming to be the single-largest party, the party leaders are maintaining that no government formation will be possible without Congress involvement. PDP, which had 21 members in the 11th Assembly, is expecting to be the single-largest party, riding on the anti-incumbency and anger among the flood victims. However, the party leadership is silent about any post-poll alliance so far.The voter turnout in the state this year was 65% which was 4% more than the last Assembly elections held in 2008 — a development which has generated hope as well as anxiety among all major political parties.While the ruling National Conference is claiming that higher voter turnout will benefit it at the hustings, PDP and BJP are maintaining that it is a reflection of the people’s desire for a change.The first phase of elections for 15 Assembly seats held on November 25 saw 72% electorate exercising their franchise, while the second phase of polling for 18 seats also recorded same turnout figures. The turnout fell to 58% in the third phase of polling for 16 seats but was still better by nearly 9% compared to 2008 polls.The fourth phase of polls for 18 seats also recorded comparatively low turnout of 49%. Like thirds phase, it was four% higher than 2008 polls for these seats. The fifth phase of elections for 20 seats, all in Jammu region, also saw over 76% voter turnout.The high voter turnout signalled an end to boycott politics in Kashmir, as even some areas considered to be separatist strongholds voted in larger numbers.Sopore constituency, hometown of hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, recorded a turnout of 30% which was 10% higher than 2008.The eight constituencies of Srinagar city, which had a combined turnout of 21.5% in 2008, also saw the voter turnout go up by 6.5% this year.Militants made desperate attempts to derail the electoral process by carrying out sensational attacks on army camps at Arnia area of Jammu and Uri in Kashmir. They also killed three sarpanches while injuring two other political workers in attacks spanning over the five phases of polling, which came to an end on Saturday.
The ruling National Conference on Tuesday said people of the Valley have refused to buy the BJP’s false promises and its leader Arun Jaitley has conceded that his party was not going to form the government in the state after positive poll trend emerged.National Conference’s working President and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, while addressing an election meeting, asked the people to “exhibit wisdom” and support the local party to carry forward its agenda of inclusive and holistic development with peace and tranquility in the state.Appealing the people to vote in great numbers in favour of National Conference, he said, “people of the Valley have refused to buy the false promises of BJP and rejected its double speak. Feeling the plus of poll trend in Kashmir, BJP leader Arun Jaitley has conceded that his party is not going to form the government in the state. When this is the ground reality the people of Jammu have to exhibits wisdom to support local party and its candidates so that it forms the government and carries forward its agenda of inclusive and holistic development along with peace and tranquility,” Omar said in a poll rally in a far-off area of Basholi of Jammu Division organised in favour of party candidate Devender Singh.He said National Conference was the only party which represents aspirations of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions as also those of the sub-regions and all sections of the society. Omar said NC stands for unity, solidarity, peace, brotherhood and inclusive development of the state and it has proved its sincerity and commitment in this regard time and again.”Our motto and agenda was for permanent peace, political stability, prosperity, economic development and welfare of youth, women, work force, farmers and other sections of the society,” he said, adding that NC unlike BJP and other parties don’t speak different languages and tones in different regions of the state but its commitment for justice, equality and inclusiveness was firm and glaring.Omar accused Congress of being opportunist and criticised its behaviour of shifting blame of its own wrong doings to NC. “It is surprising that Congress, which was full of praises for NC when it campaigned for Congress candidates in Lok Sabha polls, has suddenly started blaming NC in Assembly elections for petty vote bank politics,” he said, adding the people of Jammu and Kashmir were not going to buy this propaganda.He said in fact Congress put all hurdles in implementing major public welfare measures in the state particularly the decision relating to creation of new administrative units. Congress during its tenure failed to recognise the genuine demands of the district Basholi and deprived the people of this area while announcing new districts in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding NC was confident that Basholi deserves the status of Hill district and if it returns to power it will grant two districts to Jammu Division – one for Basholi and other for Nowshera-Kalakote.
BJP candidate from Shopian constituency Javed Ahmad Qadri today allegedly thrashed a voter inside a polling station, claiming that the latter had entered the booth without a voter slip.Qadri thrashed an unidentified man in presence of the polling staff inside the polling station at Moochwad in south Kashmir Shopian district where polling is underway.Speaking about the incident, Qadri accused the PDP and NC workers of committing malpractices in the elections.”The workers of the PDP and National Conference have been doing this for the last 60 years,” he alleged.District Election Officer of Shopian Bashir Ahmad Bhat said the incident had not yet come to his notice.”If such a thing has happened, action under law will be taken against him,” Bhat said.In another incident, BJP candidate from Amirakadal Hina Bhat entered into a heated argument with polling staff at a polling station in Chanapora area of the constituency.Eyewitnesses claimed that Bhat slapped a polling official.However, District Election Officer, Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Bhat said, “There was an altercation between the candidate and some polling staff but the issue has been resolved and the candidate has left the polling station.” On the reported clashes between National Conference and Lok Janshakti Party supporters in Habbakadal constituency in the city, Shah said it was not a major incident.”Heated arguments do take place but there was no law and order problem. Voting across the district is going on smoothly,” he added.
In an audacious attack, militants on Sunday night shot dead sarpanch of the ruling National Conference in Shopian district of Kashmir near his residence.Mohammad Sultan Bhat was in his car when, about 500 metres from his residence in Nazneenpora in Shopian when the ultras stopped his vehicle and pumped bullets at him from close range at around 9.30 pm, police said. Bhat died on the spot while the assailants managed to escape, it said.Extending condolences to the sarpanch’s family, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Bhat’s death “will only spur us on to remain steadfast and committed to our mission of a peaceful, prosperous new Jammu & Kashmir.” “He joins the many hundreds of NC cadre killed for their political beliefs,” Omar tweeted. Omar said the National Conference will tomorrow formally request the Election Commission to review security in this area. “We are concerned about gaps in the security grid,” he said.”The EC code forbids me from any engagement with the security forces so the EC is now responsible for plugging any loopholes,” he said. The killing comes a day after a grenade attack in Srinagar in which eight people were injured. On November 28, ten people had lost their lives in militant attack in Arnia sector, while yesterday militants had also triggered a blast targeting an army vehicle near LoC in Poonch, but the troops escaped unhurt.
After six years of power-sharing, National Conference on Sunday said it did not compel Congress to forge an alliance with it to form government in Jammu and Kashmir and said its top brass was “belittling” the ruling party with “reckless and irresponsible” statements.”I have not compelled you (Congress) to forge alliance with us (NC) and accept me the Chief Minister of the state for six years,” JK Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told a public rally in Poonch on the last day of campaigning for second phase of JK polls on December 2. Omar and NC have been in the line of fire from the leadership of Congress including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Gulam Nabi Azad and JK Congress chief Saifuddin Soz.The chief minister criticised Congress leadership for making “reckless and irresponsible” statements to belittle the image and popularity of NC. “National Conference never forcibly asked Congress to ally with it. It was the decision of Congress party and its leadership,” he said. Omar said during over five-and-a-half year of coalition government, Congress leadership found no fault in NC or in the government led by it.Suddenly, during elections, they are putting all the blames on NC, he said.Omar alleged that when he took over the reigns of the state, the earlier government of Congress and PDP had left the state in dire condition. “It was my government which nurtured peace and gave development and transparency a new dimension, making people the masters and bringing the government functioning under the full public scan,” he said. Omar said,”False propaganda by vested interests cannot eclipse these achievements.” The NC leader also said that all “turncoats, corruption tainted persons and unscrupulous elements have camped in PDP to make fortunes” at the cost of the interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir. “PDP, Congress, BJP and other power thirsty parties imposed elections on the people of Jammu and Kashmir who were suffering from flood devastation and had lost their crops, properties, houses and other belongings in the floods. “In fact, these parties wanted their political rehabilitation rather than the rehabilitation of the flood sufferers,” he added. He said NC was the only political party which opposed the holding of elections at the time when total focus should have been on the rehabilitation of lakhs of flood-hit families. “NC had no choice but to accept the elections.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday accused Sajjad Gani Lone of ganging up with the BJP, which he alleged wants to end the special status of the state, a charge which the separatist-turned-politician said was “shameless”.”Today, suddenly one of the leaders (Sajjad Lone) sees a brother in (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. The brother who wants to remove Article 370, the flag and the constitution of this state. “The brother who wants to bring down our mosque and construct a temple there, a brother who wants to remove the Shariah law (Muslim Personal Law) and replace it with uniform civil code,” Omar said addressing an election rally in Handwara area of Kupwara district.Lone, who joined mainstream politics by contesting 2009 Lok Sabha polls, is making his debut in Assembly elections by contesting from Handwara segment which goes to polls on December 2. BJP has not fielded its candidate from Handwara segment. Omar said people of Kashmir do not need such “brothers” and wished Lone “all the best”. “If I had been Bilal Lone (Sajjad’s elder brother), I would have been scared today,” said OmarLone also hit out at Omar saying his allegations against him were “shameless”. “I do not want to get personal against Omar but his remarks against me on Article 370 and other issues are just shameless. I do not need tutoring from Omar on Article 370. He is talking about preserving the cultural identity when he cannot even speak Kashmiri. He has lived all his life outside the state and got power on a platter,” Lone said. The separatist-turned-politician said Omar should ask his father how he and his grandfather sold the soul of Article 370.Lone had met Modi on November 10 and after the meeting described the Prime Minister as “elder brother”. Lone, who joined mainstream politics by contesting 2009 Lok Sabha polls, is making his debut in Assembly elections by contesting from Handwara segment which goes to polls on December 2. BJP has not fielded a candidate from Handwara segment. “What have I done? I have never entered the Assembly. Article 370 has been eroded by National Conference and Congress,” Lone alleged.He said Omar has made a public speech but it was the people who would decide on December 2, when polls would be held. Omar had asked the people to give a verdict for their honour by voting for National Conference and voting against those who used the separatist platform to exploit thousands of young boys right to their youthful graves to reach a stage where they could impetuously jump in to the lap of RSS.The JK Chief Minister said National Conference would not allow any political force to toy around with the political sentiments, aspirations and rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, BJP spokesman for Kashmir, Khalid Jehangir said Omar was frustrated at the prospects of losing in the Assembly elections. “He has lost relevance in Kashmir politics. With nothing to show for in his six year rule, he was making such statements,” Jehangir said.
Hitting out at its former ally, Congress on Thursday said National Conference is raking up autonomy and AFSPA issues to avoid accountability for their non performance in the state.”NC is again resorting to their wild cries to repeat their old rhetorics to avoid accountability for their non performances and indulges in search of excuse to shift their responsibility for failure to fulfill popular aspirations of the state”, Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma told a public rally here.”Autonomy, revocation of AFSPA are irrelevant issues as NC has been exposed for divisive politics,” Sharma said.The NC’s demand for autonomy is irrelevant as people of the three regions in the state need development, progress and prosperity, and are least bothered about any political gimmicks either from NC or someone else, Sharma said.Rejecting the revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir, Sharma said security matters and ground level situations to be left at the discretion of those who are responsible for maintenance of Security and law and order.Saying Jammu region demands restoration of its dignity and deliverance of Justice, Sharma asserted that Congress is the only party which promised Regional Development Council empowered by the Constitutional necessities for the region.The Congress leader later explained his welfare works done in Akhnoor Constituency and urged the voters, including women, to cast votes.
No party may get a clear majority in the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, an opinion poll by a news channel has claimed while two other surveys on Jharkhand polls show that BJP is likely to emerge on top in the state.As per the opinion poll conducted by Hindi channel – News Nation India – in Jammu and Kashmir, none of the political parties is likely to get a clear majority. The survey by the channel projected that PDP is likely to get 31-36 seats and emerge on top in J & K, followed by BJP with 23-28 seats in the 87-strong assembly. It gives ruling National Conference 7-11 seats and Congress 8-12 seats.In Jharkhand, the same channel’s opinion poll predicts that BJP may get majority in the 81-member assembly with 42-46 seats followed by JMM 14 to 18 seats. Another opinion poll, by ABP News-Nielsen projected that BJP and its allies LJP-AJSU are likely to get around 37 seats in Jharkhand, short of the majority-mark. BJP on its own is likely to get around 30 seats in the state while Congress, RJD and JD(U) are together likely to get 23 seats, the opinion poll projected. As per the ABP News-Nielsen opinion poll, more than 80 percent of respondents have rated the performance of PM Narendra Modi as very good or good.
PDP patron and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has grown only one year old in last six years! According to the affidavit filed by Sayeed for the assembly election from Anantnag constituency, the former chief minister is 72 years old.However, as per the affidavit filed by him in 2008 assembly elections from the same constituency, Sayeed had declared his age as 71 years. When asked for a comment, PDP chief spokesperson Nayeem Akthar said “there must be some error in recording figures”. The PDP founder is not the only politician whose increase in age is not corresponding to the six years that passed by between the two assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.Congress candidate from Leh and Housing Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora, who declared his age as 53 years in 2008 polls, has shown his age as 56 years in this year’s elections. National Conference candidate from Sonawari and Minister for Higher Education Mohammad Akbar Lone was 63-year-old in 2008 elections but grew by only four years to show his age as 67 this year. However, some politicians have taken the opportunity to correct their age on record. National Conference candidate from Gurez and Minister of State for Animal Husbandry Nazir Ahmad Khan was only 35 years old in 2008 polls. This year, he has shown his age as 49.
Thousands of National Conference supporters painted this central Kashmir town red by carrying out a massive roadshow as party’s working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah filed his nomination from this assembly segment on Thursday.Red-and-white flags and buntings of the NC adorned both sides of the road from Narbal to Beerwah – distance of nearly 20 kilometres – as Omar interacted with people along the way.Omar, who chose to contest from Beerwah and Sonawar assembly segments instead of the Ganderbal family bastion, stepped beyond the security protocol to mingle with the enthusiastic supporters.Omar’s security detail had a tough time as the supporters of the Chief Minister used the opportunity to click some ‘selfies’ with their leader. After filing his nomination papers, the supporters did not allow the NC leader to board his vehicle and instead urged him to walk through to Beerwah Bus Stand, where he is scheduled to address a rally.Omar happily obliged and even instructed the security personnel not to prevent people from coming closer to him. Clad in a pheran (traditional Kashmiri gown used during winter), Omar paid obeisance at a local shrine at Nihalpora in Pattan area of Baramulla district.Hundreds of trucks, buses, cars, autorickhsaws and motorcycles formed a huge procession in front and at the back of the cavalcade of the NC working president. Shouting slogans in favour of Omar and the NC – the premier political party in the state, the activists including women broke into spontaneous dance jigs and cheers.Traditional Kashmiri folk songs – a medium used by the National Conference during its rallies right since party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was jailed in 1953 – were sung by the women supporters along the way.While passing through the native village of Congress candidate from Beerwah seat Nazir Ahmad Khan, the Chief Minister’s road show was booed by the supporters of the local aspirant.Omar stopped and addressed them: “Your opposition is also welcome. We welcome the opinion of everyone who participates in the democratic process.” Many a supporter of the NC in the area were beaming with smiles and enthusiasm over the fact the Omar had chosen Beerwah to contest the state elections.”Beerwah has been traditionally a strong-hold of the National Conference but the cadre was not organised. With Omar Sahib deciding to adopt the constituency, the party has been rejuvenated,” Ghulam Hassan Khan, a retired Government employee, said.Farooq Ahmad, a shopkeeper by profession, is confident of Omar’s victory and hopeful that the Beerwah constituency has better days ahead. “Our present MLA (Mohammad Shafi of PDP) has neglected the constituency and we have lacked on development front,” Ahmad said adding basic amenities like roads are in dilapidated condition.Beerwah will go to the polls in the third phase of the five-phased assembly elections on December 9.
Clashes broke out between supporters of ruling National Conference and Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday during filing of nominations by their candidates at Kulgam district election office in south Kashmir, police said.An altercation broke out between supporters of two candidates, who had come to file their nomination papers before the election authorities in Kulgam district town, the police said. They said police personnel deployed on security duty stepped in and used batons to chase away the rival supporters.While police said three cops were hurt during the brief clashes, eyewitnesses claimed that at least a dozen activists of the two parties suffered minor injuries during the incident. Kulgam is going to polls in the second phase of elections on December 2. Tomorrow is the last date for filing of nominations for the second phase of polls.Six candidates, including sitting MLA and CPI(M) state Secretary M Y Tarigami, have so far filed their nomination papers from the constituency. Tarigamdi is seeking re-election from the seat for the fourth time.
A new chapter has been written in Kashmir’s politcal history after the BJP gave tickets to 14 Muslims for the Jammu & Kashmir assembly polls to be held in five phases, starting November 25. The BJP released a list of 45 candidates, out of whom 14 are Muslims. A dental surgeon, a prominent Gujjar leader, a National COnference rebel are among the Muslim faces, representing the party. They will take on the biggies of three major parties—National Conference, Congress and People’s Democratic Party—in the upcoming polls. Dr Hina Bhat, a 34-year-old dental surgeon, whose father Mohommad Shafi Bhat was the only National Conference (NC) politician to join the poll fray in 1990 when Kashmir singed in militant fire, is a BJP candidate from Amira Kadal in the heart of Srinagar. Her father had contested and won the seat on a National Conference ticket in 1996, before he switched to the Congress after he was denied another ticket. Bhat won the seat in 2002 on a Congress ticket before his health deteriorated, leaving him bedridden. Eshfaq-ur Rehman Poswal, a prominent Gujjar leader will be the BJP’s candidate from Karnah consituency in the border district of Kupwara. Chaudhary Talib Hussan, a former NC minister will be the party’s candidate from Rajouri in Jammu division. In fact, BJP state vice-president Vibodh Gupta, who had lost the 2008 elections from Rajouri by just 1,300 votes, left the seat for Talib “in the greater interest” of the party in order to fulfil ‘mission 44’, required for BJP to come to power in the state. “These are good beginings for the party. We were taunted earlier by being called the party of one and half districts. But, now this party will rule this state. And today BJP has proved that we represent every strata of society in J&K”, Gupta told dna.
Given the current patch of identity crisis the Congress is going through, even the small regional parties like Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) have resorted to arm-twisting it on seat sharing for the five-phased assembly elections beginning November 25.Party sources said the JMM has told Congress that if the elections are to be fought in alliance then it will fight on 40 seats and it is for Congress to share the rest of the 41 seats with other possible alliance partners such as RJD and JDU.Jharkhand has 81 assembly seats, which leaves little manoeuvrability space for the Congress if it wants to stop a resurgent BJP by pooling in all resources through a grand alliance of regional parties.The RJD that had won five seats in 2009 elections has already put a demand of 17 seats, while the JDU that had won two seats is yet to come up with its demand. If JMM sticks to its demand of 40 and the RJD does not climb down, the Congress may have to restrict itself to less than 25 seats to accommodate the other two alliance partners.The recent by polls in Bihar, where the grand alliance of Congress, RJD and JDU managed to restrict BJP to 4 seats out of 10 in contention, adds to the Congress’s dilemma – whether to bow to JMM’s diktat and RJD’s demand or take the risk to fight without their support.The JMM, sources said, is weighing its argument on the last assembly election results, when it had emerged as the joint biggest party with BJP by grabbing 18 seats and the Congress had managed to come on the third spot with 14 seats.Eager not to break the alliance, the Congress has called JMM for a meeting on Wednesday and Thursday to find an amicable formula to hopes floating to keep the BJP at bay, at least in Jharkhand.Meanwhile, taking rather a bold step that may put it at cross with the ruling National Conference, the Congress on Wednesday declared 15 of its candidates for the first phase polls in Jammu and Kashmir.It has decided to field former National Conference local leader Mohammed Yousuf Bhat from Ganderbal, a traditional seat of the Abdullah family since 1975. Bhat had quit the NC in April this year and was planning to fight as an independent but dramatically joined Congress just hours before filing his nomination from Ganderbal.
As Election Commission announced the poll schedule for Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said ruling National Conference was more keen on rehabilitating the flood-affected people before “anyone else’s political rehabilitation”.”The announcement of elections in J&K effectively brings the curtain down on my first term as CM now that the MCC applies in the state. It has been an honour & a privilege to work for the people of my state. Through this term, I have done my best to serve the people of J&K,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter. “While NC was keen to rehabilitate the flood-affected people before anyone else’s political rehabilitation, the EC felt differently,” he said in another tweet.”Now with election dates announced, there is no question of not contesting the forthcoming polls. We will put our best foot forward,” he said. The Election Commission announced a five-phase election to the state assembly beginning, November 25.Omar said the verdict of the people was the only thing that mattered and the rest was “noise”. “It is now for the people to decide whether my efforts were good enough & their verdict is the only thing that matters, the rest is noise,” he said. He said his party would work to “expose parties like PDP who have made it their stated mission to capitalise on the post flood misery of the people.”
Ahead of announcement of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress Minister Sham Lal Sharma, who has been facing criticism over handling of recent floods, has tendered his resignation from the Omar Abdullah ministry.Citing alleged sabotage of regularisation of daily wagers as a reason for tendering his resignation, Sharma, who is Minister for Public Health Engineering and Flood Control, met Jammu and Kashmir’s Congress Chief Saif-ud-din Soz last night and handed over his resignation.”I have submitted my resignation to the Prof Saifuddin Soz as the Chief Minister is out of station,” Sharma said.Alleging sabotage by National Conference leader and Finance Minister Adul Rahim Rather in taking steps for regularisation of daily wagers in the state, Sharma said “it was intentional dilly-dallying tactics by the Minister for Finance Abdul Rahim Rather who is head of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the regularisation of thousands of casual workers engaged from time to time since 1994.””Justice is being denied to such a large number of casual workers since 2009 when Cabinet Sub-Committee was constituted to look into the grievances of all sections of employees and workers,” he said.In an attempt to play ‘Jammu card’, he claimed National Conference ministers were blocking the move because there were more daily wagers from Jammu region.However, the charge was denied by National Conference as a “political stunt” ahead of announcement of elections in the state. “It’s a political stunt and this move has more to do with the internal dynamics of Congress party,” said National Conference’s Jammu province President Davinder Singh Rana.Indicating that Sharma may be leaving Congress, Rana said “there is a possibility also that he may be nursing some other political ambitions.”Sharma, an MLA from Akhnoor, was recently criticised by his own Congress Minister Taj Mohiuddin who alleged that the flood control minister had stopped dredging work in the Kashmir Valley which aggravated the flood situation.Sharma, however, said he would continue to be in Congress.”I have only resigned from the government and not from the Congress party. I was a Congress worker and will remain one,” he said.Rather was not available for comment.Meanwhile, state Congress’s chief spokesman Farooq Renzu Shah has tendered his resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi, alleging that the “floods were fully mismanaged” by Sharma which led to “deliberate drowning” of Srinagar and South Kashmir.