Srinagar: As things unfold, the Governor’s rule in J&K is likely to linger at least till the completion of assembly polls in New Delhi. Amid this scenario, the announcement of election to four seats of Rajya Sabha has thrown up a different challenge to political parties especially PDP and BJP.
The two parties have emerged as single and second largest parties respectively and can either join hands or one of them will surely be part of any government if formed in the state post fractured mandate.
None of two have staked claim for the government formation so far even as both were invited separately by Governor NN Vohra before he assumed responsibilities of the administration upon himself on Friday last.
They have not either ruled out possibility of cobbling the alliance and whether there is any tacit understanding between the two as has been alleged especially by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah may be known when legislators vote for candidates vying for the four RS seats.
Other behind the scene happenings may also get unraveled provided there is voting at first place, scheduled on February 7 by Election Commission of India if all vacancies are not filled up uncontested.
In light of the Supreme Court ruling, all the 87-elected members to 12th assembly form the Electoral College despite having not taken the oath.
With election date announced, the nominations procedure for election to the four seats will be completed by the end of this month with withdrawal of papers. The notification will be issued next week and the candidates can file nomination papers by or before January 28.
If voting eventually takes place, there are a number of possibilities and in one of them, the PDP and BJP combine can win three seats or all of them; National Conference and Congress combine could get one seat; PDP support to Congress can also win all important seat for Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad.
In a different scenario, if parties go alone, PDP with 28 MLAs can win two seats, BJP having 25 members can prevail on one vacancy while NC or Congress can end up wining no seat at all.
Whatever the scenario may emerge, the election has high stakes for Congress than others as it could lose Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha in Azad.
Given the bitter campaign that Congress ran against the NC with even Rahul Gandhi attacking ‘friend’ Omar Abdullah during the poll campaign, the NC with 15 MLAs and support of two independents is unlikely to back it. There are already signals that the NC may not support Azad given that the party has rejected ‘grand alliance’ idea floated by him.
The NC is likely to field own candidate and things would get clear as the election process moves towards nomination phase.
The elections have been warranted as the four members—Ghulam Nabi Azad, JKPCC chief Saifuddin Soz (Congress) and NC’s Mohammad Shafi Uri and Ghulam Nabi Ratanpuri—are officially retiring on February 12.
All of them became parliamentarians on February 13, 2009 as per a sharing pact then between the Congress and NC in the state.
Initially, former three time CM, Farooq Abdullah, was elected to India’s Upper House; he was later replaced by Rattanpuri on his election to Lok Sabha during May 2009 Parliamentary polls.
Azad and Soz were elected uncontested while the NC candidates—Farooq Abdullah and Uri—emerged victorious against PDP’s incumbent MLA from Amira Kadal Syed Altaf Bukhari and BJP-supported independent candidate A V Gupta.