Srinagar, Mar 21: The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) core group, headed by former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti (Baji or elder sister as she’s called), will meet on Friday to discuss and finalise the names of its candidates for upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said Mehbooba Mufti has met senior party leaders in Jammu as well as Kashmir before she finalises the names of the candidates.
“The core group meeting is likely to take place tomorrow (Friday),” PDP Chief Spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir was quoted saying by news agency Kashmir News Service.
While the party has announced former employees’ union leader Abdul Qayoom Wani as its candidate for the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, the candidates for the remaining seats will be finalised in the meeting.
Sources said Mehbooba on Monday interacted with leaders of all 37 Assembly seats in Jammu province to seek their opinion on the candidature for the two Jammu seats.
According to a party leader, though three leaders including A R Veeri and Mehboob Beg are among the probables for the Anantnag seat, the party leaders want Mehbooba Mufti to contest the election from southern Kashmir.
The restive southern Kashmir seat was last held by Mehbooba before she returned to state in 2016 and later went on to become the Chief Minister.
However, the Election Commission of India couldn’t hold the by-polls to the seat owing to “unfavorable security scenario” in the constituency which is spread over four districts.
In 2014 parliamentary polls, Mehbooba bagged the seat but after facing a tough fight from the Congress candidate Hilal Ahmed Shah, who lost with a very thin margin. Shah may get mandate for Assembly polls from Anantnag seat. In South Kashmir, considered as the bastion of PDP as most of the former legislators of the party belonged to south Kashmir districts out of its total strengthen of legislators that was 28.
However, party recently suffered a dent as majority of its prominent faces quit. Those who left include Imran Raza Ansari, Abid Ansari, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Peer Hussain and last but not the least, Haseeb Drabu.
A senior PDP leader confirmed that the party would pitch for Mehbooba to be its candidate for south Kashmir seat. “We are sure about her win,” he said, wishing not to be named. Mehbooba has already started her public out-reach to garner peoples’ support once again.