Top political leaders, kin join fray as DDC polls gain momentum

Azad’s 2 nephews pitted against each other

MHA deploys 250 addl para-military companies

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Nov 18: As elections to the District Development Councils (DDCs) gained momentum, many prominent political personalities including former Ministers, ex-legislators, kin of many politicians including two nephews of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and other influential persons have either joined the battle of ballots or were in the process of joining it making the polls being held for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir an interesting contest.

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Nadeem Sharief Niaz son of Azad’s cousin Mohammad Sharief Niaz, a former Cabinet Minister who had passed away recently because of post-COVID related ailments has filed nomination papers from Changa Territorial Constituency in Bhaderwah tehsil of Doda district while Mehboob Azad son of Azad’s brother Mustafa Azad has filed papers as an Independent candidate against Nadeem. This way, the two nephews of Azad are pitted against each other. Azad has so far distanced himself from the DDC elections in J&K and hasn’t visited the Union Territory even once since the election process was set into motion.

Nadeem told the Excelsior that five block presidents from the seat had recommended his name as the candidate from Changa seat and, therefore, the party gave mandate to him.
Choudhary Mohammad Akram, former Congress MLA from Surankote and son of party stalwart late Choudhary Aslam has filed papers from Surankote-A constituency in Poonch district while former Pradesh Youth Congress president Shahnawaz Choudhary has revolted against the party and joined the fray from same segment as an Independent candidate.
Two former PDP MLAs from Rajouri and Poonch Assembly seats, Choudhary Qamar and Shah Mohammad Tantray are set to join the battle of the DDC elections. Both of them had won Rajouri and Poonch Assembly seats for the first time in 2014 as PDP nominees but had later parted ways from the party.
Tantray told the Excelsior that he has filed nomination papers from Loran Territorial Constituency in Poonch district as an Independent candidate while Qamar said he is considering contesting from Rajouri constituency on the mandate of Apni Party. Former legislator Choudhary Bashir Naz’s son Reyaz Choudhary has also joined the electoral race from Loran as an Independent candidate.
Former Cabinet Minister Choudhary Zulfikar’s wife Zubaida Begum is contesting the election from Budhal-A constituency on the mandate of Apni Party. However, daughter-in-law of Zulfikar’s sister and wife of BDC Chairman Javed Choudhary has also filed papers from the same segment as an Independent candidate.
Former National Conference MLC Dr Shehnaz Ganaie has jumped into the election fray from Women Reserved segment of Mandi in Poonch as an Independent candidate while Begum Atiqa Jan, mother of NC Youth wing president Aijaz Jan has also filed nomination papers from the same seat as the party’s official nominee. Jan and his father had represented Poonch Assembly constituency.
Former Cabinet Minister and veteran Congress leader Mula Ram’s son Rajinder Kumar `Happy’ has joined the election fray from Marh Territorial Constituency. The National Conference has also fielded Ram Lal as its candidate from the same segment.
Former Minister of State Aijaz Khan has filed papers from Thuroo Territorial seat in Reasi district on the mandate of Apni Party while his brother Mumtaz Khan, who is also former MLA has filed nomination from Mahore-A. Former Cabinet Minister Abdul Gani Malik has joined the fray from Mahore segment.
While National Conference has fielded Anita Thakur wife of late former Kalakote MLA Rashpal Singh from Kalakote, Sushma Thakur, wife of Rashpal Singh’s younger brother Randhir Singh is the BJP candidate from the same seat.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has ordered deployment of 250 additional companies of para-military forces for the ongoing elections of the District Development Councils in Jammu and Kashmir to strengthen security measures in view of militant threats to the polls.
“The additional companies of para-military are being shifted to Jammu and Kashmir from different States and will be in place well ahead of the start of first phase of elections on November 28,” sources said, adding the additional companies will be deployed in vulnerable areas.
Recently, the election process was over in Bihar where large number of para-military companies had been engaged for smooth conduct of polling process.
The 250 companies were drawn from various Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) like the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and the SSB.
A CAPF company has an operational strength of around 100 personnel.
He said the largest number of 49 companies are from the Central Reserve Police followed by other CAPFs.
The units are now moving towards the Union Territory, the officer added.
The troops will be deployed along with the local police and other CAPF units already present in the UT for counter-terrorist operations and law and order duties, he said.
Meanwhile, Shahnawaz Shah, KAS, Assistant Commissioner in the State Taxes Department, Kashmir has been deployed as General Observer for District Kulgam for Minicipal Council, Kulgam Municipal Committees, Frisal & Yaripora, in place of Kuldeep Kumar Sepolia, Additional Secretary to the Govt Technical Education Department Jammu, who shall not leave the station (Kulgam) without the joining Shahnawaz Shah.
Dr Zahoor Ahmad Raina, Personnel Officer in the office of PCCF, J&K was deployed as General Observer for District Anantnag for Municipal Council Anantnag, Municipal Committees, Achhabal, Kokernag, Bijbehara & Qazigund, in place of Dr Subash Chander, Registrar, District Samba, who shall not leave the station (Anantnag) without the joining of Dr Zahoor Ahmad Raina.

Highest 35 candidates in Srinagar, lowest 3 in Pulwama
The highest number of 35 candidates are in the fray in Srinagar district after first phase of withdrawal of nomination papers for the District Development Council (DDC) elections. Minimum three candidates were in the fray in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

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Twenty nine candidates were in fray in Kupwara district, 21 Bandipora, 20 Baramulla, 19 Kulgam, 13 Shopian, 11 each in Anantnag and Budgam and 10 in Ganderbal district of Kashmir.
In Jammu region, 27 candidates are in fray for the DDC polls in Ramban district followed by 20 Doda, 15 Kathua, 13 Reasi, 11 Kishtwar, 10 each Poonch and Samba, eight Udhampur, six Jammu and four in Rajouri district.

NC suspends talks with Cong, Mir reacts
In a big political development, the National Conference tonight announced suspension of talks with the Congress on electoral adjustments in the DDC polls in view of Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala’s statement yesterday that the party wasn’t part of the Gupkar Alliance.
“There are no talks going on between us and the Congress on seat sharing at this point of time. Surjewala’s irresponsible statement is unacceptable and reflects the confusion in the mind of Congress Party. They should clear cobwebs in their mind and come out clearly on the issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir,’’ National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana said in a hard-hitting statement released tonight.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the Congress having ruled Jammu and Kashmir and the country for many years is ambiguous on certain basic issues concerning polity of the country. Since 1953, the dilly-dallying by the Congress has done no good to the State either.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the NC stand, PCC (1) Chief GA Mir said the Congress has entered into electoral adjustments with NC and other like-minded parties for the DDC elections to give combined fight to the BJP.
“If the NC has decided not to hold further talks, we have no problem. It is their decision,” Mir said.