Although the National Conference and PDP are backing the Congress by not fielding their candidates for both Lok Sabha seats of the Jammu division in a bid to “dislodge” the BJP from these seats, all eyes are on Chaudhary Lal Singh who has set up his own Jammu-centric party and is likely to play spoilsport.
The BJP has again fielded Dr Jitendera Singh, minister of state in the PMO, for the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat while the Congress has given the ticket to Vikramaditya Singh, grandson of the last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh.
Vikramaditya is seeking election from the constituency 39 years after his father Dr Karan Singh won the seat in 1980.
Heavyweights, who filed their nomination papers on Monday include Dr Farooq Abdullah (NC Srinagar seat), Vikramaditya Singh (Congress Udhampur), and Raman Bhalla (Congress Jammu).
Vikramaditya was earlier nominated a member of the J&K legislative council by the PDP but after some time he resigned from the seat and also from the PDP to protest against the “discrimination” with the Jammu region.
Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had unsuccessfully contested the Udhampur seat against Jitendra Singh in 2014 and this time he is reported to have refused to re-contest from the constituency which is his home area.
Lal Singh, who was made to resign as a BJP minister from the Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet for seeking CBI probe into the alleged rape-murder of a girl in Kathua, has now floated his own party– Dogra Swabhimaan Sangathan (DSS) —which has received encouraging response in pockets of the Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats. Before joining the BJP, Lal Singh had twice won the Udhampur seat on Congress ticket because of which he enjoys influence in the area.
The NC and PDP have decided not to field their candidates for the Jammu and Udhampur seats to prevent the division of votes so as to “defeat” the BJP. However, the alliance between the Congress, NC and PDP is confined to the Jammu region and these parties are contesting the three seats of Kashmir against each other without any poll understanding.
Former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, is the PDP candidate for the worst terrorism affected Lok Sabha seat of Anantnag in South Kashmir that has been the bastion of the party.
Farooq Abdullah had, in 2017, won the Srinagar seat in the by-election and this time the PDP has fielded a Shia leader, Aga Mohsin, against him. The J&K Peoples Conference of Sajad Lone is also contesting the seats of the Valley.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming this week to campaign for Jitendra Singh in Udhampur.