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LS polls: Azad pulls out of race; fields  Saleem Paray from Anantnag

April 18, 2024

Srinagar: Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) president Ghulam Nabi Azad has decided not to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

He has withdrawn his candidature from Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir, they added. Following Azad’s withdrawal, Mohammad Saleem Paray could be the party’s candidate for the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, sources added.

Speaking to reporters, DPAP’s provincial president of Kashmir, Mohammad Amin Bhat confirmed the development. Azad will not contest the Lok Sabha elections. A meeting took place with Azad and it was decided that advocate Saleem Parray will be the DPAP candidate for the Anantnag-Rajouri seat,” he added. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference senior leader Mian Altaf are contesting from the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary seat.

Azad’s U-turn comes days after he said he is contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls to carry on his fight for the restoration of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir and the protection of land and job rights of its residents. The former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir had said that while he had several reasons for contesting the Lok Sabha elections, safeguarding the jobs and land of the people of Jammu and Kashmir was his top priority.

It should be noted here that Azad had left the Congress in 2022, ending his five-decade-long association with the party, and floated the DPAP.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls will kick off on April 19 with the counting of votes set to take place on June 4 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a bid for a third consecutive term in office.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said over 97 crore voters – 49.7 crore males and 47.1 crore females – were eligible to cast their vote in the polling process spread over 44 days and across 10.5 lakh polling booths. The elections will begin on April 19 followed by subsequent phases on April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1.

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