Jammu & Kashmir polls: Most parties yet to announce candidates

J&K: Most parties yet to decide names
Srinagar, Oct 28: Even as the dates for the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir have been announced, with the first phase of the five-phase exercise being less than a month away, most parties are yet to announce their candidates for various constituencies.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the dates for the elections on October 25 and 15 constituencies go to polls in the first phase on November 25. The notification for the first phase was issued on Tuesday.

The ruling National Conference (NC) is yet to decide on the mandates for three constituencies out of 15. Out of these fifteen constituencies, the NC has not given mandates in three assembly seats - Ganderbal, currently represented in the state legislature by NC working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Bandipora and Inderwal.

National Conference has released three lists of mandates so far and there are still many constituencies including three - Hazratbal, Sonwar and Zadibal - in Srinagar district, where candidates have not been finalised yet.

The party has not yet decided on the seat for Omar and though the leadership was divided over Ganderbal and Sonwar, the NC working president may ultimately fight the battle from the family's traditional bastion Ganderbal in central Kashmir.

Omar had lost the elections from the seat in 2002 when he made his electoral debut in the state politics, but won comfortably in 2008. The party said the process of finalising the mandates for the remaining constituencies was delayed because of the devastating floods that hit the state last month.

The party even expressed its reservations to holding the elections on time and was in favour of delaying the process citing rehabilitation of the flood-affected people as a reason. It said the focus of the government would shift from rehabilitation to the elections.

However, the party finally decided to give in as the ECI decided to conduct elections on time and announced the poll dates. "We had issued three lists and were finalising the fourth and the final one, but, unfortunately, a tragedy struck the state and our focus shifted on the relief and rehabilitation of the people," NC spokesman, Junaid Matoo said.

Matoo said the party has almost finalised the names and the list would be issued in a couple of days. As the process has been set in, the party does not have much time, with the date of voting less than a month away.

The workers in these constituencies do not know for whom to campaign and so the preparations for the polls have been delayed. "We do not yet know who will fight from here. How could we make preparations for the elections," Abdul Hameed Mir, a party worker from Ganderbal, said.

He said the workers of the constituency had informed the party leadership of not nominating any other candidate except Omar from Ganderbal, but the party, he said, was still undecided about the candidate. National Conference is not alone when it comes to finalising mandates. Its coalition partner, Congress, and the opposition BJP are yet to take a call on any assembly constituencies.

Both the parties say, they would announce the mandates in a few days. "The candidates would be announced within a couple of days. We are working on it," Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee, President Saifuddin Soz said.

BJP said the party leadership was in touch with the state leaders and meetings were on to decide the candidates. "The meetings are going on and the list would be out in a few days," BJP's Kashmir spokesman, Khalid Jehangir, said.


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