SRINAGAR: After completion of fourth of the five-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 the BJP and other parties.
20 Assembly segments, spread over three districts -- Jammu, Rajouri and Kathua -- in Jammu province will go to polls in the fifth and final phase of polls for J&K Assembly on Saturday (December 20). Unlike Kashmir; where the battle was between the NC, the PDP and the 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 Parliamentary elections held early this year.
The BJP had won both Lok Sabha seats from the Jammu region, with party leader and now MoS PMO Jitendra Singh defeating Congress heavy weight and former Union Home Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad from Doda-Udhampur seat. Meanwhile J&K BJP president Jugal Kishore defeated the two-time Congress MP from Jammu-Poonch by heavy margin.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other top BJP leaders have addressed the poll rallies in favour of party candidates, and these rallies have been well attended. The senior BJP leaders are busy campaigning for the party candidates. Although Congress president Sonia Gandhi has addressed a few poll rallies in the state, the party’s poll campaign in Jammu is being led by Ghulam Nabi. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is the star campaigner of the NC, while Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti have been campaigning for the 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 the Modi-wave in Jammu that three-time Congress MLA from Chhamb seat and Deputy Chief Minister of the state Tara Chand is facing a 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 capitalise and wrest the seat from Chand.
Chamb seat falls on the 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.