Akbar Lone may be new Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker (Lead)

February 25th, 2009 - 12:01 am ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Feb 24 (IANS) The newly elected Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly is meeting Wednesday for the budget session and the first item on its agenda is to elect a speaker, officials said Tuesday.
The ruling National Conference, party sources said, has decided to stake its claim for the post and will be fielding former deputy speaker Mohammed Akbar Lone.

“The house (legislative assembly) will meet Wednesday” to elect the new speaker, said Mohammad Ramzan, secretary of the assembly.

The National Conference, the single largest party with 26 lawmakers in the 87-member house, will field Lone for the post, a senior party leader told IANS.

“Lone would be the party’s choice for the post,” the leader said. Lone was elected from Sonawari constituency of Bandipore district in north Kashmir.

The National Conference, however, is yet to decide on whether deputy speaker’s post should be given to the ally Congress or to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has 21 legislators in the house.

Other names doing the rounds for the speaker’s post inlcude former minister Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, who won from Handwara in northwest Kashmir.

After the election of National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress to the Rajya Sabha, the effective strength of the two parties in the house of 87 has been reduced to 42 - 16 of the Congress and 26 of the National Conference.

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