Omar dumps Ganderbal, to contest from Sonawar and Beerwah

Srinagar, Oct 31 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah decided Friday to contest assembly elections from Sonawar and Beerwah constituencies, instead of seeking re-election from his family’s traditional Ganderbal seat.

The National Conference (NC) parliamentary meeting, chaired by Abdullah, Friday issued list of 22 candidates for the assembly elections – 15 from the Kashmir Valley and seven from the Jammu region.
Abdullah will contest elections from Sonawar in Srinagar d istrict and also from the Beerwah constituency in Badgam district.
After three generations and 39 years, the Abdullahs have chosen not to contest from Ganderbal. seat.
Abdullah had won from Ganderbal in 2008, avenging his 2002 defeat at the hands of Qazi Muhammad Afzal of the Peoples Democratic Party.
NC founder and Abdullah’s grandfather, late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, joined mainstream politics by fighting elections from Ganderbal in 1975.
He won from Ganderbal in 1977 while his son Farooq Abdullah won elections from Ganderbal in 1983, 1987 and 1996.
Sonawar seat is presently represented in the 87-member state assembly by Muhammad Yasin Shah of the NC while Beerwah is represented by Muhammad Shafi Wani of the PDP.
The NC also announced fielding Ashfaq Jabbar from Ganderbal for 2014 assembly elections.
Jabbar had fought 2008 elections as a Congress candidate from Ganderbal, but lost to Abdullah.
Jabbar now faces challenge from PDP’s Qazi Muhammad Afzal whose candidature has already been announced by the PDP.
The NC also announced that senior party leader and Abdullah’s uncle, Mustafa Kamal would be its candidate for the Tangmarg seat in Baramulla district while Peer Afaq has been fielded from Zadibal constituency in Srinagar distinct.
Zadibal seat is this time represented by NC while Tangmarg is represented by Ghulam Hassan Mir of the Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN).