The People's Democratic Party (PDP) will hold a meeting of its 28 MLAs and two Rajya Sabha MPs to decide which candidate to vote for during the presidential election on 17 July, after some of its members expressed opposition to NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind, due to his RSS background.
National Conference, the state's main Opposition party, has decided to support Meira Kumar. NC’s provincial president, Nasir Aslam Wani, said, “Our working president, Omar Abdullah, was also part of the discussions on the presidential election. Our preference will remain for the joint Opposition candidate.’’
Many in the PDP believe that support to Kovind will further erode the party's political base in the state as it has already taken a hit due to its alliance with the BJP.
Qazi Afzal, PDP senior leader and party general secretary, said that the party meeting on the presidential election will be held soon.
“Party president and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has been informed about the party's concerns over its eroding electoral base. It has been already brought to her notice the damage that has been done to PDP because of its alliance with BJP and she has acknowledged this," said a senior PDP leader.
Former minister and PDP MLA, Javid Mustafa Mir, said that he will abide by the decision of the party. He also said that though he is not opposed to BJP's ideology, but he also believes that the rights of the Muslims need to protected across India. “I am a steadfast Muslim and Islam is a belief system which determines the way one has to live as well as eat. My conscience and the decision of the party will be the guiding factors in the vote for the presidential candidate,’’ he said.
A former PDP MLA from south Kashmir, however, said that a few in the party are in favour of the NDA BJP candidate.
The PDP has been at loggerheads with the BJP and accused the latter for failing to keep its promise of electing a PDP candidate for the Upper House of Legislature in April, the saffron party, instead, elected someone from its own party. In the legislative council elections in April, PDP candidate Abdul Qayoom Dar had lost the seat in Jammu division, while BJP candidate Vikram Randhawa was elected.
“Since BJP has not kept its promise during the legislative council elections, PDP has every reason not to support the BJP candidate,’’ said a PDP leader. According to sources, some party members can even go against the party decision in their opposition against Kovind.
The PDP also fears a backlash from NC if it ends up supporting a candidate with a pro-Hindutva ideology.
For the presidential elections, besides the 87 MLAs, also the six MPs from the state can vote. In the Legislative Assembly, while the PDP has a strength of 28 MLAs, BJP has 25, NC 15, Congress 12, CPM one and there are six Independents. NC’s Lok Sabha MP and former chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, PDP’s Rajya Sabha MPs, Fayaz Ahmad Mir and Nazir Ahmad Laway BJP MPs, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Jitendra Singh, who is also the MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Thupstan Chewang and Rajya Sabha MP, Shamsher Singh Manhas, will vote in the elections.
Updated Date: Jun 22, 2017 19:30 PM