SRINAGAR: After completion of 4 out of 5-phase polling for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the poll battle has now shifted to Jammu province of J&K, where the contest is between BJP and other parties.
20 Assembly segments spread over three district of Jammu, Rajouri and Kathua in Jammu province will go to polls in the fifth and final phase of polls for J&K Assembly on December 20.
Unlike Kashmir, where the battle was between NC, PDP and Congress, in Jammu province, the contest is between the BJP and others. The saffron party is riding on the Modi-wave in the Jammu province as was evident during the parliamentary elections held early this year.
BJP had won both the Lok Sabha seats from the Jammu region with party leader and now MoS PMO Dr Jitendra Singh defeating Congress heavy weight and former Union Home Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad from Doda-Udhampur seat while J&K BJP president Jugal Kishore defeated two-time Congress MP from Jammu-Poonch by heavy margin.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders have addressed poll rallies in favour of party candidates and these rallies have been well attended. Senior BJP leaders are busy in campaigning for the party candidates.
Although Congress president Sonia Gandhi has addressed few poll rallies in the State, party’s poll campaign in Jammu is being led by Ghulam Nabi Azad. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is star campaigner of NC while Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti have been campaigning for PDP candidates alongwith new entrants to the party like veteran Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma and Vikramaditya Singh, son of former J&K Sadr-e-Riyasat and Congress leader Karan Singh.
Such is the influence of Modi-wave in Jammu that three time Congress MLA from Chhamb seat and Deputy Chief Minister of the State Tara Chand is facing tough competition to retain the seat.
He is facing the heat from BJP candidate Krishen Lal. Besides confronting Modi-wave, he is also battling strong anti-incumbency factor. The saffron party is using its resources to capitalize and wrest the seat from Tara Chand.
Chamb seat falls on India-Pakistan border and was hit by the floods in September. It also witnessed Pakistan firing and mortar shelling.
Another Congress leader and PHE Minister Sham Lal Sharma is trying to tide over the BJP wave by raising the issue of Hindu Chief Minister.
He is seeking re-election from Akhnoor constituency, which he has been representing since 12 years. 8 candidates including Sharma are in the fray but the main battle is between Sham and BJP’s Rajeev Sharma.
In order to check-mate the BJP, Congress leader has been raising issue of Hindu CM of the State hailing from the Jammu region. The BJP has also been raising such issue in the past but has softened its stand in this election as it was for the first time contesting from majority of the State in the Valley.
According to political observers, BJP is riding on Modi-wave and expected to fare well in elections in Jammu region, where it has got a strong presence and support base.
“Of the 20 seats going to polls on December 20, balance in majority of the seats is tilted towards BJP and it would be hard for Congress, NC and PDP to tide over the Modi-wave,” they said.
BJP had 11 legislators in the outgoing 87-member J&K Assembly. However, the party is expected to double its tally in this Assembly election.