BJP drops 7 sitting MLAs, brings new faces in first list of 45

Sanjeev Pargal

BJP Central Election Committee meeting being held in New Delhi on Sunday to finalize candidates for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP Central Election Committee meeting being held in New Delhi on Sunday to finalize candidates for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

JAMMU, Nov 2: In a bold decision, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is making strong and determined bid to capture power for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir with Mission 44+ like Haryana, today dropped seven sitting MLAs including its Legislature Party leader Ashok Khajuria and all six “tainted MLAs’’, who had indulged in cross-voting in 2011 MLCs election and re-nominated only two sitting MLAs in the list of 45 candidates approved today in the Central Election Committee meeting held in New Delhi under the presidentship of Amit Shah and attended among others by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.
The BJP list has sent a clear and strong message that it was opting for young faces in the Assembly elections in its maiden attempt to capture power in sensitive militancy-infested State as it denied mandate to not only six “tainted MLAs’’ but also to two times sitting MLA from Jammu City East Ashok Khajuria, the Legislature Party leader of BJP in the Assembly.
The BJP today cleared names of 45 candidates for five phase Assembly elections in the State from November 25 to December 20 including 32 contestants out of 37 seats for Jammu region and remaining for Kashmir and Ladakh.
Seven sitting BJP MLAs, who have been denied the party mandate, included Ashok Khajuria (Jammu East), Baldev Sharma (Reasi), Durga Dass (Hiranagar-Reserve), Master Lal Chand (Bani), Jagdish Raj Sapolia (Basohli), Bharat Bushan (Domana-Reserve) and Prof Gharu Bhagat (RS Pura-Reserve).
Excepting Ashok Khajuria, all other six MLAs had been expelled by the BJP in 2011 after they had cross-voting for National Conference-Congress candidates in the Legislative Council election along with the BJP Legislature Party leader Prof Chaman Lal Gupta. However, the BJP had revoked expulsion of six MLAs later and taken them back into the party fold but denied entry to Prof Gupta, who is sitting MLA from Jammu West.
The BJP had re-nominated only two sitting MLAs—Sham Choudhary (Suchetgarh) and Sukhnandan Choudhary (Marh). Jammu State Morcha (JSM) MLA Ashwani Sharma, who had recently joined the BJP, has also been given party ticket from Bishnah constituency, where he will be trying for hat-trick as had won previous two Assembly elections in 2002 and 2008 as Independent candidate.
BJP had won 11 Assembly seats in 2008 elections but the party strength was reduced to four in 2011 after it had expelled seven MLAs for indulging in cross-voting in March 2011 biennial elections to Legislative Council. Later, the BJP had revoked expulsion of six MLAs.
The party has fielded its Yuva Morcha president Ravinder Raina from Nowshera Assembly constituency in Rajouri district.
Of 37 Assembly seats in Jammu region, where the BJP has very high stakes having taken massive leads in 24 segments in April-May Lok Sabha elections, the party has cleared names for 32 seats. Five seats in Jammu, where the party has not announced its candidates in the first list, included Billawar in Kathua district, Samba Reserve, Gandhi Nagar and Nagrota in Jammu district and Darhal in Rajouri district.
Party sources said the top BJP leadership has given the option of Nagrota and Gandhi Nagar Assembly seats to party veteran leader Dr Nirmal Singh, who wanted to contest from Billawar. The BJP leadership has reportedly rejected the name of Nand Kishore Sharma, brother of former Nagrota MLA and present BJP MP from Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat, Jugal Kishore Sharma for Nagrota seat on the ground that entire BJP campaign against dynastic politics of NC, Congress and PDP will be reduced to a hoax if Nand Kishore was given mandate from the same seat.
Jugal, the State BJP president had won Nagrota seat for two consecutive terms in 2002 and 2008. In fact, he was lone BJP MLA in the Assembly in 2002. Both the time, he had defeated erstwhile royal family icon Ajatshatru Singh.
Sources said once Nirmal Singh gave his choice, the party high command would clear the names for Nagrota, Gandhi Nagar and Billawar segments. The BJP leaders wanted to field Satish Sharma from Billawar if Nirmal Singh agreed for any of the two seats offered to him. In 2008 elections, Nirmal Singh had narrowly lost Gandhi Nagar Assembly seat to Congress candidate and present Housing Minister Raman Bhalla.
In the list of 45, the BJP has given mandate to two women including Neelam Langeh from Ramban (Reserve) and Dr Hina Bhat from Amirakadal in Srinagar district.
In City East, BJP has fielded Rajesh Gupta while in City West it has given mandate to Sat Sharma, CA. While Ashok Khajuria holds City East, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta represents Jammu West presently. Yudhvir Sethi and Kavinder Gupta were also among the strong contenders for East and West seats respectively.
The party has given mandate to Bali Bhagat from Raipur Domana (Reserve) denying re-nomination to Bharat Bushan, Dr Gagan Bhagat has been fielded from RS Pura, where the party has denied mandate to sitting MLA Prof Gharu Bhagat. In Bani segment of Kathua district, the BJP has fielded Jeevan Lal, a retired Tehsildar and prominent social worker by not giving ticket to sitting MLA Master Lal Chand. Basohli seat has gone to Lal Singh, who had defected to BJP after being denied mandate by the Congress for Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat. Lal Singh had won Basohli seat in 1996 and 2002 and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and 2009. He had lost Basohli seat to BJP’s Sapolia in 2008.
BJP has denied mandate to Sapolia to accommodate Lal Singh.
In Hiranagar (Reserve) seat of Kathua district, the BJP has replaced its sitting MLA Durga Dass and given mandate to Kuldeep Kumar. The party has replaced another sitting MLA Baldev Sharma in Reasi and fielded Advocate Ajay Nanda in his place.
The BJP has re-nominated Sham Choudhary from Suchetgarh and Sukhnandan Choudhary from Marh seat. Chandar Prakash Ganga has once again been given mandate from Vijaypur Assembly seat of Samba district.
Other BJP candidates cleared for the election in Jammu region included Sunil Sharma (Kishtwar), Tariq Keen (Inderwal), Shakti Parihar (Doda), Dileep Parihar (Bhaderwah), Neelam Langeh (Ramban), Showkat Daing (Banihal), Pradeep Singh (Gulabgarh), Kuldeep Dubey alias Mangu Shah (Gool Arnas), Pawan Khajuria (Udhampur), Dina Nath Bhagat (Chenani-Reserve), RS Pathania (Ramnagar), Rajiv Jasrotia (Kathua), Rajiv Sharma (Akhnoor), Dr Krishan Lal (Chhamb-Reserve), Talib Hussain (Rajouri), Abdul Ghani Kohli (Kalakote), Taj Mohammad Khan (Surankote), Zulfikar Ali Pathan (Mendhar) and Pradeep Sharma (Poonch Haveli).
Showkat Daing had contested last Assembly election from Banihal as an independent candidate and lost with narrow margin to Congress candidate Vikar Rasool. Tariq Keen (Inderwal) and Talib Hussain (Rajouri) were earlier prominent NC leaders. Talib had won Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat in by-election in 2002 for Lok Sabha seat and is also former Works Minister. Mangu Shah, a prominent social workers, has also deserted NC recently and joined BJP.
Pawan Khajuria is former BJYM president and State secretary. RS Pathania has recently joined BJP from Congress and has been fielded against three times NPP MLA and former Minister Harshdev Singh among others.
The BJP candidates for two segments of Leh district included Tsering Dorje (Leh) and Tenjing Galik (Nobra).
The BJP has cleared names of 11 candidates for Kashmir region including Eshfaq-ur-Rehman Poswal (Karnah), Desh Kumar Nehru (Rafiabad), Nazir Ahmad Raina (Kangan), Hakim Masood (Hazratbal), Ashok Bhat (Khanyar), Moti Kaul (Habbakadal), Hina Bhat (Amirakadal), Mushtaq Noorabadi (Noorabad), Ghulam Nabi Dar (Homeshalibugh), Fayaz Ahmad Bhat (Devsar) and Sofi Yousuf (Pahalgam).
Meanwhile, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh and BJP Incharge for Jammu and Kashmir Avinash Rai Khanna are visiting Doda and Bhaderwah tomorrow to join BJP candidates Shakti Parihar and Dileep Parihar in filing nomination papers.
The Central Election Committee meeting was presided over by BJP president Amit Shah and attended among others by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance & Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, Ram Madhav, JP Nadda, Shahnawaz Hussain, Avinash Rai Khanna, Jugal Kishore and Ashok Khajuria among others.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here