'Separatist' Sajjad Lone to contest Assembly polls

Separatist-turned-mainstream politician and chief of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (PC) Sajjad Gani Lone has decided to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections from north Kashmir’s Handwara constituency.

The PC issued a list of 18 candidates for the Assembly polls scheduled to start from November 25, after the party’s election committee meeting here. Lone will try his luck from the family bastion of Handwara where his party is believed to have a sizeable influence.

Sajjad, who has a degree in economics from Cardiff university in London, burst on to Kashmir’s political scene after his father Abdul Gani Lone was assassinated by unidentified militants on May 21, 2002 during a rally in downtown Srinagar. His elder brother Bilal Lone is executive member of moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

Meanwhile, sources told Deccan Herald that to achieve its “mission 44+” in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, the BJP has been in constant touch with Sajjad Lone.

“Senior BJP leaders have held several rounds of talks with Sajjad in Srinagar and New Delhi over the recent few months,” they said and added that the saffron party has narrowed down on Sajjad as a Muslim chief ministerial candidate if the alliance wins.

In July this year, BJP national general secretary J P Nadda had held a meeting with Sajjad Gani at the latter's uptown Sanantnagar residence in Srinagar to discuss the possibility of entering into an alliance with his party.

Immediately after the meeting, rumors started percolating that Sajjad could be the BJP's chief ministerial candidate. Sajjad has so far neither denied the reports nor confirmed it.
A separatist, Sajjad has authored 268-page “Achievable Nationhood”, which envisages boundary-less economic union of Jammu & Kashmir with India and Pakistan jointly managing defence and foreign affairs of their respective portions of Kashmir.

He joined mainstream politics in 2009 to contest parliamentary elections. He described his plunge into mainstream politics as “a shift in strategy, not ideology.”

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