Jammu : The Peoples Democratic Party, a major alliance partner in the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, has decided to field its patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as its chief ministerial candidate in the next assembly elections, slated for October 2008, according to highly-placed party sources.
The assembly elections, though scheduled for October next year, could be held earlier as the political groups are busy in a high-pitched political campaign, indicative of the mood in the run-up to early elections.
Mufti Sayeed had earlier indicated that he would not contest the assembly polls, but has relented now. The party's probable candidate from Pahalgam, from where Mufti Sayeed is currently Member Legislative Assembly, Rafi Mir, has been recommended by the party for nomination to the Legislative Council.
The party has forwarded Rafi Mir's name to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who in turn has recommended to Governor Lt. Gen. (Retd) S.K. Sinha. The nomination announcement is expected any moment.
According to PDP sources, this development took place after several senior leaders prevailed upon Mufti Sayeed that he should contest the polls. As a result, the probable party candidate from Pahalgam constituency, Rafi Mir, has been recommended for nomination for a vacant seat. This seat had been lying vacant for more than two years.
Rafi Mir had quit National Conference in February this year and joined PDP as he had felt that National Conference had "failed to recognise his work in the party and for the people" during his more than two-decade-long political career.
Mufti Sayeed's daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has already indicated that she would not profile herself as chief ministerial candidate in the assembly elections.
Mehbooba Mufti had contested from Pahalgam constituency in the 2002 elections. Mufti Sayeed had devoted his energies in electioneering. It was after the elections that Mehbooba had pitched for her father as chief minister of the first-ever multi-party coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, and succeeded. She contested and won Lok Sabha elections from Anantnag constituency in April 2004. The seat she vacated was contested by her father, who until then was a member of the Legislative Council.