Union Minister of Health Ghulam Nabi Azad is tipped to be the Congress party's candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, first time from his home state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources close to the senior Congress leader told The Hindu on Tuesday that Mr. Azad, who was "not interested" to be a candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, finally conveyed to the party high command his willingness to contest. According to these sources, Mr. Azad is likely to be nominated in the list of the candidates being released from the All India Congress Committee headquarters on Tuesday.
After losing Assembly elections in Inderwal segment to National Conference in 1977, Mr. Azad never contested any elections in Jammu and Kashmir till 2006 when he was the Chief Minister and required to be a member of the State legislature. He contested the byelection from his home segment of Bhaderwah, polling 62,072 votes and defeating a BJP candidate with a margin of over 58,000 votes, a distinction he shares with nobody in the history of electoral battles in Jammu and Kashmir. Again in Assembly elections of 2008, Mr. Azad got the highest number of votes and the biggest winning margin -- 38,000 against the BJP candidate's 8,000.
However, Mr. Azad returned to the national politics and was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He had previously served as a Rajya Sabha member for about 20 years since 1990. In 1996, he lost his first and till date his last Lok Sabha election from Yawatmal-Washim in Maharashtra. He was returned from erstwhile Washim constituency with an impressive margin of over 1,50,000 votes in 1980 and later in 1984. His victory from Udhampur-Doda could mark his entry in Lok Sabha after a long gap of 30 years.