Cong keen to field Soz, Azad, other stalwarts in Assembly polls

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) The Congress leadership is keen to field party stalwarts like Water Resources Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz and former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in the coming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir so as to give a tough fight to the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The party Screening Committee, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, which held several meetings to discuss the poll strategy in the state, wants all party bigwigs to contest the elections, party sources said.

The Committee had already cleared the names of party candidates for 10 assembly segments where the elections will be held on November 17. Former Speaker Chaudhry Mohammed Aslam figures prominently in the list.

Besides Prof Soz and Mr Azad for Sopore and Badherwah constituencies, other prominent leaders considered were veteran politican Ghulam Rasool Kar for Baramullah, Mangat Ram Sharma from Jammu city, Taj Mohiuddin from Uri, former PCC Chief Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed from Kokernag and Abdul Gani Wakil from Rafiabad.

The Screening Committee may also field senior Supreme Court advocate Ashok Bhan from Habba Kadal or Amirakadal seat. It has agreed to leave some seats in the Valley for dissident PDP leader Ghulam Hasan Mir and Usman Majid, former minister.

The elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in seven phases, stretching over a period of 38 days upto December 24.

Earlier, it was reported that Prof Soz, who heads the PCC, was not keen to contest the polls. He is a sitting member of the Rajya Sabha and is eager to supervise the campaign along with other leaders. However, the high command appears determined to field all senior leaders.

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