Ghulam Nabi Azad to contest from Anantnag-Rajouri

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, his party DPAP said.

After ending his five-decade-long association with Congress in August 2022, Azad formed the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP).

“Today the core committee of DPAP met and we have decided that (party president) Ghulam Nabi Azad will contest the Anantnag-Rajouri seat,” DPAP leader Taj Mohiuddin told reporters in Srinagar.

This will be the first Lok Sabha election for Azad after he lost from Udhampur constituency in 2014 to BJP leader Jitendra Singh.

On the possibility of an alliance with the Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari, Mohiuddin said no progress has been made on that front.

“We are short of time and there was not much headway in talks. So it is better they do their bit and we do ours. They were not in any case interested in Anantnag seat,” he added.

Mohiuddin said candidates for other Lok Sabha Seats in Kashmir will be decided in due course.

Political analysts claim that Azad, who has a vote bank in the south of Pir Panjal areas like Doda, Kishtwar, Baderwah and Poonch, will be able to divide the votes of opposition party candidates.

Anantnag-Rajouri covers Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir and most parts of the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Jammu region.

The seat, which witnessed major redrawing by the delimitation panel, is presently held by National Conference leader and former judge Hasnain Masoodi who had wrested the seat from PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

The Lok Sabha polls in the J&K will be held in the first five of the seven-phased elections : April 19 (Udhampur), April 26 (Jammu), May 7 (Anantnag-Rajouri), May 13 (Srinagar) and May 20 (Baramulla). The results will be announced on June 4.

(With PTI inputs)

Harry Byrne

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