Jammu: Electoral battle lines are drawn for Thursday’s polling to Jammu Lok Sabha seat where Congress nominee and two-time Member Parliament Madan Lal Sharma is looking for a hat-trick while opposition BJP’s Jugal Kishore Sharma is trying to woo electorate on Narendra Modi plank.
Jammu has 1.76 million voters, making it the largest among the six Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Over 1,800,500 voters will exercise their right to franchise to decide the fate of 13 candidates in the fray,” Returning Officer of Jammu seat Ajeet Sahu said here.
But the constituency is set for a direct battle between the ruling Congress and BJP.
Even as National Conference (NC)-Congress is fighting the Lok Sabha poll in alliance, Madan Lal Sharma is in for tough fight to sustain his claim from the constituency, spread in 20 out of 87 assembly segments.
Of the 20 assembly segments, two are in the Samba district, 11 in Jammu, four in Rajouri and three in Poonch.
Interestingly, the BJP holds the maximum number of seven segments, followed by the Congress (five), NC (four), PDP (two) and NPP and Independent (one each).
BJP’s Sharma claimed “it is vote for Modi. People here will root less for me than for Modi so that the latter becomes Prime Minister by voting in my favour. I hope for a big victory.”
Modi had raised the contentious issue of a debate on Article 370 under which the state’s accession with the Union of India has been agreed upon. However, Modi’s utterances found virtually no takers and led state BJP, which is already battling feud among its leadership, to further trouble especially when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah threw an open challenge to Modi for a discussion on the Article 370.
The PDP candidate has also added to the problems of BJP as Yashpal Sharma may end up cutting into the vote share of Jugal Kishore Sharma.
Madan Lal Sharma, who had won from Jammu in 2004 and 2009, is trying woo voters on development plank of Jammu city and other parts of the constituency.
He denies there was any Modi wave. “There is no such wave. It is a hype created by BJP. They will face the same fate as they got for India Shinning campaign.”
The PDP has fielded Yashpal Sharma, who belongs to the Poonch district, while the National Panthers Party (NPP), which holds one seat in the 20 assembly segments, has chosen Hari Chand Jalmeria for this battle.
The Congress won the inaugural elections in 1967 and thereafter in 1971, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1996, 2004 and 2009. (The powers of the Election Commission of India were extended to Jammu and Kashmir in 1964 and the state voted for the first time during the fourth general elections.) Madan Lal Sharma won the seat for the Congress in the last two polls.
In 1977, an Independent candidate Thakur Baldev Singh, had won the seat.
The BJP won the seat thrice in 1991, 1998 and 1999.
The NC won the seat only once, Chowdhary Talib Hussain wresting it in a by-election in 2002. (with PTI inputs)