Rift in coalition widens, PDP protests during cabinet meet over LC elections

Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) on Tuesday lodged a strong protest against its coalition partner BJP for not supporting its candidate in the legislative council elections.

The cabinet meeting which started in the summer capital at Jammu at around 2 pm lasted for over one hour. In the meeting PDP took a strong note that the BJP didn’t vote for its candidate in the legislative council elections which was held on Monday, sources said.

The issue was raised by some PDP Ministers in the meeting, however in their defence BJP Ministers held that the candidature as well as the voting was only decided by the BJP high command.

A cabinet Minister said that in the meeting even as the PDP raised a protest, they were told that the cabinet was not an appropriate forum to discuss the issue. The BJP Ministers in their defence informed their coalition partner that it was the party state president, Satpal Sharma, and other office bearers of the party who were competent to take the decision over the matter. However the issue be later flagged in the group of Minister (GOMs) meeting between PDP and BJP, said a senior cabinet Minister.

The decision to hold the cabinet meeting was taken by Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, only a day after PDP candidate lost the legislative council elections. During the meeting need for political engagement on the Kashmir issue was also stressed.

On Monday BJP didn’t keep its promise with the coalition partner PDP to vote for its candidate in the legislative council elections and instead supported its own candidate that lead to the loss of the PDP candidate.

During the meeting it was discussed that PDP was the single largest party in the state and it should have got two seats in the MLC elections. On the contrary BJP managed to get 3 seats, PDP, NC and Congress got one each.

Confirming that the issue was raised in the cabinet, Minister for Co-operatives, Chering Dorjay, however said that the matter remained inconclusive.

“The party state leaders are in a position to explain the issue,” he said. 

Earlier an electoral understanding was reached that BJP will give first preference of votes to PDP candidate. But during the elections which were held both BJP candidate, Vikram Randawah and PDP candidate, Abdul Qayoom Dar, got equal votes following which the election was decided on the draw of lots.

While Congress candidate got 31 votes, PDP and BJP candidates got 29 votes each. BJP has strength of 26 members while PDP has 29 MLAs in the legislative assembly including the nominated member.

However, in the contest PDP candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar lost the elections as two MLAs of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) also voted for BJP along with independent MLA from Zanskar, Syed Baqir Rizvi, due to which BJP candidate Vikram Randhawa won the elections.  However NC-Congress were supported by independent MLA from Udhampur Pawan Gupta and Congress candidate and Engineer Abdul Rashid as well as Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami and Hakeem Mohammed Yasin due to which Balbir Singh won the elections.

While five seats had turned vacant due to the retirement of candidates, elections had become necessary for another seat due to the demise of MLC, D S Oberio. On the three seats of Kashmir and one seat reserved for Poonch, no contest was witnessed earlier and the canidates were declared elected unopposed.  From the three seats of Kashmir for which a single notification was issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI), PDP’s, Yasir Reshi, BJP’s, G L Raina and NC’s, Aga Syed Mehmood have already been declared as elected. On the seat which was reserved for Poonch, BJP’s Pradeep Sharma was declared as a winning candidate.

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