Azad, Soz elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Kashmir


Jammu : Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, both from the Congress, were declared elected unopposed from Jammu and Kashmir to the Rajya Sabha Friday after the scrutiny of nomination papers.

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The two filed their nomination papers Tuesday against two seats. Four Rajya Sabha seats from Jammu and Kashmir had fallen vacant in November last year, but elections could not be held as the state assembly, which forms the electoral college for the Rajya Sabha polls, was not constituted then. The assembly elections in the state were held in November-December and the National Conference came to power with the support of the Congress.

The Election Commission issued three notifications for the four seats. Since there was no candidate against Azad and Soz, both were declared elected by the secretary of the state legislative assembly, who is also the returning officer for the upper house polls.

Azad was union parliamentary affairs minister in the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh until 2005, when he was appointed chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

Soz, formerly with the National Conference, joined the Congress party in 2003 and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2004. In January 2006, he was inducted into the ministry as minister of water resources.

The election for the remaining two seats will be held Feb 13, the returning officer said. The candidates in the fray for the two seats include former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and former minister Mohammad Shafi Uri of the National Conference, Altaf Bukhari of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Ashok Vijay Gupta of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).