Omar opts out from Ganderbal, to contest from Sonwar, Beerwah

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Oct 31: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today decided to contest Assembly election from two constituencies of Sonwar and Beerwah instead of seeking re-election from Ganderbal, the traditional home turf of Abdullahs.
The National Conference (NC) Parliamentary board met here under Omar Abdullah in chair and issued a list of 22 candidates – 15 from Kashmir valley and 7 from Jammu.
The Parliamentary Board meet decided that Chief Minister will contest from Sonwar Assembly constituency in Srinagar and Beerwah Assembly constituency in Budgam.
Abdullahs have opted out of Ganderbal Assembly after 39 years.  They have been defeated in this constituency only once by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Qazi Mohmmad Afzal, in 2002 Assembly elections. Omar, however, avenged the defeat in 2008 to become Chief Minister.
NC founder and Omar’s grandfather, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, fought elections from Ganderbal in 1975. He won from Ganderbal in 1977 while his son Farooq Abdullah won elections from Ganderbal in 1983, 1987 and 1996. Omar lost in 2002 but won in 2008.
The Sonwar where from Omar is contesting is presently represented by Muhammad Yasin Shah of the NC while Beerwah is represented by Muhammad Shafi Wani of the PDP. Last time NC had fielded Professor Abdul Majid Matto from Beerwah who lost to Wani.
Omar is facing the PDP candidate and MLC Mohammad Ashraf Mir in Sonwar and PDP candidate, MLA Mohammad Shafi Wani in Beerwah.
The Chief Minister has left Ganderbal for Sheikh Ashfaq Jabbar who contested 2008 elections as a Congress candidate from Ganderbal against him. The constituency that witnessed triangular contest will have now contest between Jabbar and PDP’s Qazi Muhammad Afzal. Jabbar joined NC early this year ahead of Parliamentary polls.
Meanwhile, Omar tonight tweeted that by leaving Ganderbal seat for Jabbar, he has settled 40 years old debt of Jabbar’s father, Sheikh Jabbar, who had stepped down as MLA Ganderbal 40 years ago allowing his grandfather (Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah) to contest.
“Almost 40 years ago, Sheikh Jabbar had stepped down as MLA Ganderbal allowing my grandfather (Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah) to contest. Today I have nominated his (Sheikh Jabbar’s) son to contest on a NC ticket. With this a decades old debt is finally settled,” Omar said and thanked the people of Ganderbal for their love and support.
Omar pointed out that he had decided two years ago that he wouldn’t seek reelection from Ganderbal.
“Having decided two years ago that I wouldn’t seek reelection from Ganderbal, I continued to work for the constituency and will always do so,” he said.
Another member of Abdullah family and Omar Abdullah uncle, Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal will be contesting from Gulmarg. He will be contesting against Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir.
NC has fielded Aga Syed Mehmood against PDP’s Imran Raza Ansari in Pattan. Ali Mohammad Dar will contest from Chadoora in Budgam. Rajya Sabha member Ghulam Nabi Ratanpuri will contest from South Kashmir’s Pulwama.
Mohammad Sayeed Akhoon will contest from Srinagar’s Hazratbal, Mohammad Ashraf Ganai for Sopore, Kafeel-ur-Rehman from Karnah, Mohammad Abdullah Wani from Bandipora, Wali Mohammad from Langate, Mirza Abdul Rashid from Rajouri, Dr. Riyaz Bhaderwahi from Bhaderwah, Sansar Chand from Chenani, Chaudhary Salaam Din from Inderwal, Surinder Singh Bunty from Gandhi Nagar, Shakti Bala from Chhamb and Dr Shamshad Shan from Gool Arnas.
The National Conference also constituted the party’s Election Campaign Committee today to manage, supervise and oversee the party’s Election Campaign. NC Working President Omar Abdullah will head the Election Campaign Committee and its members are NC General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, its Additional General Secretary Dr. Mustafa Kamaal, Abdul Rahim Rather, Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan, Mian Altaf Ahmad, Ajay Sadhotra, S S Slathia, Mubarak Gul, Vijay Bakaya, Devender Singh Rana and Nasir Aslam Wani.
In the meantime, the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today also announced its list of 11 candidates. They are Chaman Manyal for Raipur-Domana, Dev Raj Bhagat for Akhnoor, Madan Lal for Chhamb, Subhash Sharma for Kathua, Suraj Prakash for Hira Nagar, Jitender Singh for Billawar, Rangeel Singh for Basohli, Mohammad Salim Lone for Bani, Noor Mohammad for Batamaloo, Ali Mohammad Wani for Eidgah and Javaid Beigh for Baramulla.
The PAC meeting was held under the PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in chair and was attended by PAC members Mehbooba Mufti, Muzaffar Hussain Baigh, Tariq Hameed Karra, Sardar Rangil Singh, Mohammad Dillawar Mir, T S Bajwa, Qazi Mohammad Afzal, Dr Haseeb Drabu, Vikramaditya Singh, Yashpal Sharma, Syed Altaf Bukhari and Dr Sameer Kaul.


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