SRINAGAR: The Tehrek-e-Hurriyat (TH) for the first time since it was formed in 2003 by Syed Ali Geelani got its first elected chairman on Sunday. Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai was elected chairman by a majority of votes for the next three years.
The process of selection began in March this year after TeH chairman Geelani nominated Sehrai as interim chairman. Geelani cited his bad health for the need of another person to command the reins of his party, which was formed after Geelani departed from the Jamiat-e-Islami after years-long association with it.
TeH’s election commissioner Rafiq Shah told Kashmir Reader that the election process had been going on for the past three months, during which 433 voters cast their votes. He said about 410 of them cast their votes for Sehrai.
“Soon after Geelani sahab nominated Sehrai as interim chairman, he urged all the party members to not give any votes to him (Geelani) but to instead vote for other leaders of the party,” he said. “During the elections we reiterated the same before the voters.”
Geelani had been elected uncontested as TeH chairman when the party was formed. Since then he kept being re-elected, the last time being in 2015. He completed his term in 2017. His position was extended by the shoura (the decision-making body) as elections could not be held due to the arrests of many leaders, a party leader said.
On Sunday, apart from Sehrai, Ameeri Hamzah got 16 votes, Muhammad Yousif Falahi two, Saifaullah and Mushtaq Khanday one each. Three votes were rejected, Rafiq said.
Shah Wali Muhammad, former TeH district president of Baramulla and a founding member of the party, administered the oath to Sehrai. Geelani could not do so because he was ill.
Members also elected a new shoura, which will advise Sehrai on policy-making and its implementation.
In the TeH, any member can be elected to a party post but the members have to decide the candidate themselves and there are no nominees for the posts.
“I will uphold the values of the party in letter and spirit. My elevation here is a clear example of the democratic nature of TeH, unlike other parties where heads are not elected but decided,” Sehrai said on his election.