There were no surprises in the National Conference (NC) first list of 32 candidates for the forthcoming Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections issued Tuesday as the party chose to field known faces.
The list includes senior party leaders and sitting legislators from many constituencies in the Kashmir Valley. They include Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmad, Social Welfare Minister Sakina Itoo, Consumer Affairs Minister Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan, Rural Development Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar, Higher Education Minister Muhammad Akbar Lone, Law Minister Mir Saiffulah, Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo, Animal Husbandry Minister Nazir Ahmad Khan and Speaker Mubarak Gul.
A party statement issued here said party general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar announced the first list of candidates for the assembly polls Tuesday after the names were cleared by the party parliamentary board chaired by working president Omar Abdullah on the approval of party chief Farooq Abdullah.
The list has 19 candidates for the Kashmir Valley, 12 for Jammu region and one for Ladakh region.
"The Parliamentary board comprising of Ali Muhammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Sardar Harbans Singh, Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, Qamar Ali Akhoon, Nasir Aslam Wani and Devender Singh Rana met here today in the morning and discussed the panels of candidates received from the block and the district committees of the party," the statement said.
"After a three-hour deliberation, the party declared the list of 32 candidates and decided to meet later this week to discuss the other seats."
Significantly, the list does not include the name of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who represents the north Kashmir Ganderbal assembly seat in the 87-member assembly. Omar's choice of constituency is believed have delayed the announcement as speculations are on whether he would fight from Ganderbal or choose some other constituency this time.
In the April-May Lok Sabha elections, the NC led over rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates in just five assembly seats out of 36 in the valley, which form segments for the three Lok Sabha constituencies here.
The PDP won all the three Lok Sabha seats from the Kashmir Valley while the Bharatiya Janata Party won the other three seats in the state, two from the Jammu region and one from Ladakh region.
Although the state is ruled by the NC in alliance with the Congress, it is not yet clear whether the two have reached any electoral understanding for the assembly elections likely to be held here in October-November this year.