Ayodhya is not a poll factor in Jammu, the ‘city of temples’

The Jammu Lok Sabha seat is spread over four districts of Jammu, Samba, Reasi and an assembly constituency of Rajouri district.
Despite the fact that Jammu is known as the city of temples and temples can be found everywhere, BJP has not stressed its poll campaign on Ram Mandir in the region.
Despite the fact that Jammu is known as the city of temples and temples can be found everywhere, BJP has not stressed its poll campaign on Ram Mandir in the region. (Photo| Zahoor Punjabi)

JAMMU: The ‘city of temples’ Jammu will vote in the second phase of polling on April 26. Going by the campaigning of various parties, the issues of development, Article 370 abrogation, peaceful border, taking away of statehood, unemployment are the key factors in the election. The consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has not found much traction in the ongoing parliamentary polls.

The Jammu Lok Sabha seat is spread over four districts of Jammu, Samba, Reasi and an assembly constituency of Rajouri district. As many as 22 candidates are in the fray, but the main contest is between the BJP MP Jugal Kishore and Jammu and Kashmir Congress working president Raman Bhalla.

The key contenders are busy organising small street-corner meetings to reach out to the common man. A total of 17,80,738 voters, including 9,21,053 men and 8,59,657 women are eligible to vote for in the constituency.

Despite the fact that Jammu is known as the city of temples and temples can be found everywhere, BJP has not stressed its poll campaign on Ram Mandir in the region.
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The BJP has focused its campaign on the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, the developmental works and public welfare schemes launched post Article 370 repeal, peaceful borders, the decline in militancy, and the end to stone-pelting.

The Ram temple issue has also been raised by the party leaders during their campaigns but not very stridently. This is despite the fact that Jammu is known as the city of temples and temples can be found everywhere.

“We have focused on development. A lot of public-oriented development has taken place in Jammu and Poonch and people are happy. Their problems are being solved. People know that only Prime Minister Narendra Modi can take the country forward and make India Viksit Bharat (developed country),” said BJP MP and candidate for Jammu seat Jugal Kishore.

On construction of Ram Mandir, he said sentiments of people were associated with the Ayodhya temple and people also remember the construction of it, as well as the scrapping of triple talaq and repeal of Article 370.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the Ram temple in Ayodhya in January this year. In 2019, the Supreme Court gave land to Hindus after a protracted legal battle followed by Babri Masjid’s demolition.

The Congress, on the other hand, is focusing its campaign on the fallout of Article 370 abrogation including the “snatching” of statehood, rise in unemployment and crime.

“Our campaign focuses on the restoration of statehood, corruption during these years, unemployment and crime,” said Congress spokesman Ravindra Sharma.

A college teacher, Pankaj Kumar, said religion and politics should not be linked. “The construction of Ram temple is very dear to us. It is our religious issue but the polls are not contested on religious lines but contested for roads, electricity, drinking water, development, and job generation,” he said.

Despite the fact that Jammu is known as the city of temples and temples can be found everywhere, BJP has not stressed its poll campaign on Ram Mandir in the region.
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“We want jobs for our youth. The government that comes into power should evolve such a system that provides employment to the unemployed youth so that they can live a decent life,” Kumar added.

Rohit Kumar said Jammu comprises a mixed population. “Muslims and Hindus have been living in harmony for years and we don’t want to hurt this relationship by unnecessarily giving hype to religious issues.”

He said no doubt the construction of Ram temple is a very historic development and sentiments of Hindu of every part of the country, including Jammu Muslims, are associated with it.

“When the Ram temple was built, the puja was held here in every area and Muslims also contributed in setting up of pandals and raised our religious flags on their homes to express solidarity with us,” Rohit said.

According to locals here, even during the land row agitation in 2008, there was communal harmony among Muslims and Hindus in Jammu.

“It is not the time to play politics on religion. We want our new MP to focus on eliminating the threat of drug addiction and crime by providing jobs to the youth.”

Jammu was marred by anti-government protests in the past three years, which dented the BJP’s image. There were protests by job aspirants after at least three recruitment lists came under the scanner for reported scams. Rising electricity charges and the installation of faulty smart meters also sparked protests.

However, the BJP’s move to set up a Tirupati Balaji temple amid the scenic Shivalik forests in Majeen, Jammu, and running direct fast trains to Katra, which houses the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, is perceived to have won back some Hindu votes.

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