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Paharis’ veiled warning to BJP against supporting Azad
Battle for Anantnag-Rajouri seat
3/26/2024 10:42:56 PM
Early Times Report

Jammu, Mar 26: Amid reports that Ghulam Nabi Azad is going to contest the Lok Sabha election from the recently redrawn Anantnag-Rajouri seat, Pahari leaders today made it clear that they would not support any proxy candidate of BJP.
Without naming Ghulam Nabi Azad, the J&K Pahari Cultural and Welfare Forum cautioned the BJP against supporting any parachute leaders on seats where the Pahari ethnic community is a deciding factor. “On December 25, 2019, when we first time met Union Minister Amit Shah to raise our demand, we promised that the whole Pahari community would support the BJP if our long demand was fulfilled”, ex-legislator Murtaza Khan told media.
“Union Home Minister had not put any pre-condition to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status of the Pahari ethnic community. It is our commitment to the BJP leadership and we are committed to our promise”, Khan said.
Without naming Ghulam Nabi Azad, Khan said the Pahari community only supports BJP candidates. “We will not support any proxy candidate”.
Important to mention here that there are reports that following a potential pre-poll alliance with the Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari, veteran politician Ghulam Nabi Azad is poised to enter the electoral arena from the newly delineated Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in South Kashmir, set to witness an intense electoral showdown.
Bukhari, entrusted by the Apni Party leadership to negotiate electoral alliances with like-minded groups, is reportedly engaging with Azad, who has formed the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) post his departure from the Congress.
Should the alliance talks materialize, the two parties are expected to jointly contest all five Lok Sabha seats, sources revealed.
Azad has already designated his close aide GM Saroori as the DPAP candidate for Udhampur, challenging Union
The J&K Pahari Cultural and Welfare Forum cautioned the BJP their votes are crucial.
Without naming Azad, Khan said the Pahari community won’t support any proxy candidate.
Azad is poised to enter the electoral arena from the newly delineated Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.
Azad has addressed sizable gatherings in Kulgam, Kokernag, Shangus, Pulwama, Rajouri, and other segments of the constituency.
inister Dr. Jitendra Singh.
Notably, the DPAP and Apni Party have been dubbed as the ‘B-teams of BJP’ by some segments of the Valley-based political leadership, an allegation both Azad and Bukhari have vehemently refuted.
Azad has displayed a keen interest in the politically dynamic Anantnag region. In recent days, he has addressed sizable gatherings in Kulgam, Kokernag, Shangus, Pulwama, Rajouri, and other segments of the constituency. He hasn’t dismissed the possibility of contesting from Anantnag when questioned by reporters.
The recent delimitation has redrawn the Anantnag constituency, incorporating parts of Jammu division’s Poonch district and Rajouri. This has rendered the constituency intricate, creating a culturally and linguistically diverse landscape with varying demographics across its 18 segments.
Anantnag, slated for polls in the third phase on May 7, awaits the declaration of candidates by political parties.
Azad, predominantly a Rajya Sabha member during the Congress era, ventured into Lok Sabha elections in 2014 but lost to BJP’s Dr. Jitendra Singh in the Udhampur constituency. Dr. Singh assumed the role of Union Minister post-election. Azad had previously served in the Lok Sabha representing Maharashtra’s Washim constituency in the 1980s.
Azad’s solitary electoral victory in J&K occurred in 2006 when he contested and won the by-election for the Bhaderwah assembly seat as Chief Minister.
Anantnag, presently held by the National Conference, is poised for a fierce electoral showdown. PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti expresses interest in contesting from the constituency, while the BJP endeavors to strengthen its presence following the recent grant of Scheduled Tribe status and 10% job reservation to the Pahari community of Rajouri and Poonch, who constitute a substantial portion of the voter base.
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