Ghulam Nabi Azad to contest Lok Sabha polls from Anantnag-Rajouri

NC has named Mian Altaf, a Gujjar leader, from the seat

Ghulam Nabi Azad | PTI Ghulam Nabi Azad | PTI

Former Congress leader and chairman of the Democratic Azad Party (DAP), Ghulam Nabi Azad, will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency. 

DAP treasurer Taj Mohiuddin made the announcement at a press conference held in Srinagar on Tuesday.

"Today, the core committee of the DPAP met, and we have decided that Ghulam Nabi Azad will contest the Anantnag-Rajouri seat," Mohiuddin said.

This will be Azad's first Lok Sabha election after he lost from the Udhampur constituency in 2014 to BJP leader Jitendra Singh by 60,000 votes.

The National Conference has named Mian Altaf, a revered Gujjar leader, from the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat. The 66-year-old leader is a five-time MLA and former minister.

The DAP announced Azad’s candidature on a day when NC leader and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said the "PDP may not field candidates against the NC in Kashmir." 

He said both the NC and the PDP are members of the INDIA alliance.

Azad joining the fray in Anantnag-Rajouri will make the contest interesting in the constituency as DAP could attract some votes from Rajouri-Poonch and Anantnag. 

However, observers believe the main contest is between the NC and the BJP. The BJP has not announced its candidate for Anantnag-Rajouri yet, though the party has been focused on the constituency to extend its reach in Kashmir. 

The BJP is banking big on the Pahari community of Rajouri and Poonch, who were granted Scheduled Tribe Status by the party recently. 

The BJP has succeeded in wooing some influential Pahari leaders to its fold, but winning the seat remains a challenge. 

Some observers speculate that Azad could end up as a joint candidate of the DAP, the J&K Apni Party and possibly the BJP, given the challenge mounted by the NC. The NC candidate's chances will receive a boost if the PDP doesn’t field any candidate from Anantnag-Rajouri.

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