Cong MLC goes against party to file poll nomination
Jammu: In a major embarrassment for the ruling Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, one of the its sitting MLCs has filed nomination against the party's official candidates for elections to the state legislative council.
Though the candidature of dissident Mohammad Amin Bhat was rejected during scrutiny of nomination papers, the sitting Congress MLC's decision to go ahead without the party's approval is suggestive of deep fissures in the party ranks.
"The nomination of Bhat has been rejected during the scrutiny of his nomination papers today for MLC elections," Secretary J&K Legislative Assembly Mohmmad Ramzan told a news agency.
Tensions have reportedly been brewing between rival camps in the state Congress owing loyalty to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and state Congress chief Saif-Uddin-Soz after the January 15 cabinet reshuffle which removed senior leaders from office and replaced them with junior members.
Amin, a senior Congress leader from South Kashmir, is linked to the Congress faction loyal to Azad.
"We do not know on whose behalf he filed the nomination. The party will look into the matter. He has already served as MLC for six years", state Congress spokesman Ravinder Sharma said when asked about the trouble brewing for the party.
Sharma, however, played down Bhat's move to file nominations saying, "they were not valid papers (for nomination and were)... Not signed by the required number of MLAs. It was not authorised by the party so it cannot be a rebellion".
Amin's term along with seven other MLCs from the J&K Legislative Council ends on March 16.
Meanwhile, in a further sign of trouble brewing over the party's choice of candidates for the MLC polls, its Ganderbal district working president, Sheikh Ishfaq, has resigned after being denied a chance to contest.
Ishfaq, son of former minister Sheikh Jabbar, resigned from the basic membership of the party for not being named by it for the Legislative Council polls.
Reacting to the resignation, Sharma said that Ishfaq was "a new man in the party... There are far more senior leaders in the party who have given their lives for the Congress in the Valley".
"He (Ishfaq) has resigned in emotion... I hope he will reconsider his decision", Sharma added.
It is learnt that 12 candidates, six from coalition partners National Conference and Congress, have filed nominations for the MLC elections, which is to be held on March 4.