It’s official: Azad to contest from Udhampur

Srinagar: Ghulam Nabi Azad would contest from Udhampur Lok Sabha seat, the Congress announced on Thursday.
The announcement was made after a meeting of Congress High Command chaired by the party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi, late night reports said.
Azad’s name figured in list of 50 Congress Lok Sabha candidates. His candidature for the Udhampur seat was a foregone conclusion, as J&K Congress chief Saif-ud-Din Soz had on Wednesday said, “As per my understanding, Azad will contest from Udhampur Lok Sabha seat. It is expected that announcement would be made at any time.”
“There was delay for all the seats—Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh. We have not announced any candidate. It may be announced any time. I feel sure as president PCC that Azad will contest from Udhampur and Madan Lal Sharma will contest from Jammu,” he said.
Meanwhile, Madan Lal Sharma was the first Congress-National Conference candidate to file his nomination papers for Jammu Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday.
61-year-old Sharma filed his nomination at the election office here, ending days of speculations about the names of the Congress candidates from Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh.
“And so it begins. The first of our six coalition candidates, Madan Lal Sharma, has filed his nomination from Jammu LS seat,” Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made the announcement on Twitter.
National Conference and Congress had entered into a seat-sharing with Congress fighting in two seats in Jammu and the lone seat in Ladakh whereas National Conference will be contesting three seats of Kashmir Valley—Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag.
The likely candidates of National Conference are Sharif-ud-Din Shariq from Baramulla in North Kashmir, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar and Mehboob Baig from Anantnag.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah on Thursday said both National Conference and Congress will jointly win all the six Lok Sabha seats in the state.
“We were eagerly waiting for this moment when Congress will announce its candidates for the Lok Sabha seats and now the time has come,” Abdullah said while addressing the workers of National Conference and Congress outside his residence after Congress candidate from Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary Constituency Madan Lal Sharma filed his nomination papers here.
“We had already started joint campaign in favour of Mr Sharma in Rajouri, Poonch and I am sure that the alliance partners will win all the six seats,” the Chief Minister said, adding that “we will win all the seats to UPA’s kitty to form the government at Centre with Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister.”
He, however, asked the Congress high command to announce the candidate for Udhampur-Doda constituency as soon as possible so that campaign can further be intensified.
Meanwhile, opposition PDP candidate Yashpal Sharma also filed his nomination papers for the Jammu Parliamentary Constituency. Flanked by party leaders and workers, Sharma filed his nomination papers before Returning Officer Ajeet Kumar Sahu in the morning, a PDP spokesman said in a statement.
Besides Madan Lal Sharma and Yashpal Sharma, six more candidates also filed nomination papers for the Jammu Parliamentary Constituency. They are: Raj Kumar, Independent, Ved Parkash Gupta of J&K Peoples Democratic Front (PDF), Subash Chander of All J&K Kissan Mazdoor Party, Bahadur Singh Choudhary of Samajwadi Party (SP), Nirmal Singh, Independent, and Girdhari Lal Bhagat of Bhartiya Bahujan Party.
Three candidates have already filed their nominations for Jammu LS constituency which goes to poll on April 10. The trio is: Vijay Kumar of Aam Mazdoor Kisan Vikas Party, Ashok Kumar of BSP and an independent Laboo Ram. (with inputs from PTI)