BJP Scripts New Electoral History, Wins All 3 Seats In Jammu, Ladakh

16 May 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Scripting a new electoral history, the BJP won all three Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Ladakh regions with party leaders Dr Jitendera Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma making maiden entries to the Parliament from Udhampur-Doda and Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seats respectively while Thupstan Chhewang winning Ladakh seat, albeit with just 36 votes-first time for the BJP and second time for himself. The victory by BJP on three Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and PDP on equal number of seats in the Kashmir Valley decimated NC-Congress Alliance to naught, which failed to open its account as two Union Ministers-Ghulam Nabi Azad (Health and Family Welfare) and Dr Farooq Abdullah (New and Renewable Energy), both of whom were former Chief Ministers of J&K, bit the dust while all four sitting MPs, who contested the election, lost. The NC-Congress Alliance leaders including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and PCC (I) chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz had claimed that the coalition partners would win all six seats in the State. However, the results were just reverse with the Alliance losing all six seats. Widely attributed to Narendra Modi wave, the BJP managed to wrest Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seats from the Congress after 15 years as the party had last time won the two seats in 1999 elections when Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister. The BJP had never won Ladakh seat before though it had held Udhampur seat for three consecutive terms in 1996, 1998 and 1999 and Jammu seat for two terms in 1998 and 1999. Significantly, the Congress fared badly in the Assembly segments held by prominent Congress Ministers including Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand (Chhamb), PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Sham Lal Sharma (Akhnoor), Housing Minister Raman Bhalla (Gandhi Nagar), Urban Development Minister Rigzin Jora (Leh) and Cooperatives Minister Dr Manohar Lal Sharma (Billawar). In Marh constituency also, which is represented by BJP but from where Planning Minister Ajay Sadhotra hailed, the Congress was defeated with a huge margin. However, it was in Doda, Kishtwar, Banihal and Reasi districts that NC-Congress Ministers managed to secure leads for Azad in their segments. They included R&B Minister Abdul Mujeed Wani (Doda), Minister for Home Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo (Kishtwar), Minister for Revenue Aijaz Khan (Gool-Arnas) and Minister for Technical Education Viqar Rasool (Banihal). Out of 37 Assembly segments in Jammu region, which comprised two Lok Sabha seats of Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seats, the BJP had leads in 24 segments (15 in Jammu seat and nine in Udhampur seat) while Congress could gain leads only in 11 segments (eight in Udhampur seat and three in Jammu constituency). The PDP led in two Assembly segments. In Ladakh seat, BJP led in prestigious Leh Assembly segment held by Jora with about 5000 votes. Two times Congress MP Madan Lal Sharma failed to lead in his home town of Akhnoor, which is represented by his Minister brother Sham Lal Sharma and trailed to BJP by over 9000 votes. BJP also led in Leh Assembly segment. It may be mentioned here that NC-Congress, the coalition partners in the Government, were contesting Lok Sabha elections in alliance with each other like 2009. Congress was contesting three seats of Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh while NC was contesting three seats of the Kashmir Valley. BJP State president Jugal Kishore Sharma recorded highest victory margin of 2,57,280 in Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency wresting Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat from the Congress after three elections to Lok Sabha 2002 (by-election, which was won by NC) and 2004 and 2009. Jugal polled 6,19,995 votes while Madan Lal Sharma could muster only 3,62,715 votes. PDP candidate Yashpal Sharma finished third with 1,68,554 votes. BSP candidate Ashok Bhagat mustered only 31,199 votes while NPP leader Hari Chand Jhalmeria was polled just 9071 votes. As many as 4382 votes were polled for NOTA (None of the Above). Congress stalwart and Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad failed to enter the Lok Sabha from his home State in maiden bid. He lost to BJP's first timer but formidable political rival Dr Jitendera Singh by 60,976 votes. Dr Singh polled 4,87,369 votes while Azad secured 4,26,393 votes. PDP candidate Mohammad Arshad Malik secured 30,461 votes while NPP supremo Prof Bhim Singh polled only 25,312 votes. BSP's Dharam Pal Balgotra got 16,437 votes. Former Union Minister and MLA Jammu West Prof Chaman Lal Gupta's son, Anil Gupta secured 5755 votes only while10,477 electorates opted for NOTA. Independent candidates including Anil Khajuria polled 15,188 votes, Bansi Lal 7339 and Nazakat Hussain 10,478. Barring three candidates on Jammu-Poonch seat (Jugal, Madan and Yashpal) and two on Udhampur seat (Jitendera and Azad), all other candidates forfeited their deposits. In Ladakh Lok Sabha seat, it was a lucky win for BJP candidate Thupstan Chhewang, who won by just 36 votes. Chhewang had won Ladakh Parliamentary seat as an Independent candidate in 2004. Chhewang polled 31111 votes while his nearest rival, Ghulam Raza, a Congress rebel, who was in the fray as Independent candidate, who polled 31075 votes. Another Independent candidate Syed Mohammad Kazim Sabri finished third with 28,234 votes while Congress candidate Tsering Samphel finished at the bottom polling 26,402 votes. NOTA got 1207. Raza was backed by powerful Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) while Sabri had the support of another major religious organisation Islamiya School Kargil (ISK). Prominent NC leaders including Chief Minister's Advisor Qamar Ali Akhoon, MLA Kargil and Minister for Science and Technology, MLA Zanskar, had openly backed the candidature of Sabri while former Minister Haji Nissar Ali and CEC LAHDC Kargil, Asgar Ali Karblaie were supporting Raza. Raza led the counting trends till the last two rounds when fortunes fluctuated in favour of Chhewang as all four candidates were involved in neck-to-neck race. Raza called for recounting of postal ballots, a request to which the District Election Authorities agreed. Earlier, Chhewang had won the seat by 34 votes while after re-counting his margin increase by two more votes and he was declared winner by 36 votes. In Leh Assembly segment held by Congress Minister Rigzin Jora, BJP polled 23,471 votes while Congress got 18,814. It was, however, BJP's Dr Jitendera Singh, who turned out to be giant killed defeating big gun of the Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad, a several times Union Minister and Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir for over two and a half years from November 2005 to July 2008 by over 60,000 votes. Azad, a Rajya Sabha member till April 2015, was making first attempt to enter Lok Sabha from his home State though he had been elected to Rajya Sabha from here earlier also. He had been elected to Lok Sabha from Washim in Maharashtra in 1980 and 1984. However, Dr Singh, riding high on Modi wave and his own charisma of being an intellectual and pro-Jammu leader, an image he developed during 2008 Amarnath land row agitation defeated Azad with an impressive margin. Dr Singh was contesting first election of his brief political career as he had joined BJP only four years back after resigning as Professor in Medicines Department of the GMC Jammu. However, Azad got impressive support in all six Assembly segments of erstwhile Doda district and two constituencies of Reasi district-Gool-Arnas and Gulabgarh but fared very badly in five Assembly segments of Kathua district, three in Udhampur district and Reasi proper, leading to his defeat. In Kishtwar segment, Azad had lead of about 6,000 votes while in Inderwal constituency, held by Congress MLA Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, Azad registered about 28,000 lead. In Doda segment, Azad led by about 17,000 votes while in his home segment of Bhaderwah, he got about 23,000 votes more than his BJP rival. In Ramban also, Azad led over BJP by 3000 odd votes while in Banihal, he got about 27,000 votes more than the BJP. However, it was Gulabgarh segment of Reasi district, which gave Azad highest lead of about 30,000 votes while in Gool-Arnas, he got lead of about 21,000 votes. All these eight Assembly segments are represented by NC-Congress MLAs (six by Congress and two by NC). However, Azad, who led in initial three rounds of counting, started trailing as votes polled in these eight seats were far less as compared to Kathua and Udhampur districts and Reasi Main. In Reasi main, presently held by BJP MLA Baldev Raj Sharma, Jitendera Singh got lead of over 9000 votes. It was Udhampur Main, held by NPP MLA Balwant Singh Mankotia, which gave Singh an impressive leader of about 30,000 votes while in neighbouring Chenani and Ramnagar, BJP led over Azad by about 20,000 and 15,000 votes respectively. Surprisingly, Udhampur and Ramnagar Assembly segments are held by NPP leaders (Mankotia and Harshdev Singh, former Minister). Despite this, NPP supremo Prof Bhim Singh fared badly securing just 10805 votes in Ramnagar and 4483 in Udhampur. In Chenani Assembly segment, which Bhim Singh had represented in 1983 and NPP in 2002, Singh polled only 3004 votes. In 2009 Parliamentary election, Bhim Singh had secured about 69,400 votes while in today's results, he polled just 25,312 votes notwithstanding an increase of about 27 per cent voter turnout in present election. In Kathua district, it were Kathua Main and Hiranagar Assembly constituencies, held by Independent and NC ally Charanjit Singh Jasrotia and BJP respectively, which gave Jitendera Singh huge leads of about 45,000 and 40,000 votes respectively. In Congress Minister held Dr Manohar Lal Sharma's Billawar constituency, BJP led by about 24,000 votes. In BJP held Basohli and Bani segments, the BJP candidate led by 28,000 and 2500 votes respectively. Udhampur seat was represented by the Congress MP Choudhary Lal Singh for two consecutive terms of 2004 and 2009. He was denied mandate by the party high command as a number of senior Congress leaders had lobbied against him in New Delhi and wanted mandate for Azad. Lal Singh had defeated BJP's Nirmal Singh by about 13,500 votes in 2009 election. In Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency, which state party chief Jugal Kishore Sharma won by a whopping margin of over 2.57 lakh votes, the BJP led in 15 Assembly segments including all those held by the Congress Ministers. The Congress led in just two segments and PDP in two. The Jammu seat was based on 20 Assembly seats. Madan Lal Sharma had won the seat in 2004 and 2009 before losing 2002 by-election but failed to make a hat-trick. He had defeated BJP's Leela Karan Sharma by about 1.27 lakh votes in last election. In Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand's Assembly segment Chhamb and neighbouring Akhnoor held by Madan Lal Sharma's brother and PHE Minister Sham Lal Sharma, BJP had a lead of about 11,000 votes each. In Housing Minister Raman Bhalla's Gandhi Nagar seat, Jugal got healthy lead of over 36,000 votes. Jammu West held by BJP rebel Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, BJP got highest lead of about 55,000 votes over Congress. In Jammu East held by Ashok Khajuria, BJP led by about 18,000 votes. In NPP held Samba, BJP led by about 23,000 votes while in neighbouring Vijaypur, the BJP lead was over 22,000 votes. In Nagrota segment, held by Jugal Kishore Sharma for two terms, BJP had a slender lead of just about 5000 votes. In Bishnah, the BJP had a lead of 35,000 plus votes while in party segments of RS Pura and Suchetgarh, BJP got lead of about 16,000 and 20,000 respectively. Though Marh segment is represented by the BJP, the NC's former MLA from the seat Ajay Sadhotra, who happened to be the Planning Minister, had worked hard for the Alliance but the Congress there trailed by about 18,000 votes. In BJP held Raipur Domana, Jugal secured a lead of about 31,000 votes. In Rajouri district's Nowshera Assembly and Kalakote Assembly constituencies, which are represented by the NC, BJP had lead of about 28,000 and 8000 votes respectively. The only silver lining for the Congress was in Darhal, a PDP held Assembly segment, where Madan Lal Sharma led over PDP by over 7000 votes and over BJP by 20,000 odd votes. In Congress held Rajouri, Madan had a lead of about 5000 votes over PDP and 16000 votes over BJP. It was, however, PDP, which led in two Assembly segments of Poonch-Haveli and Surankote by about 21,000 and 3000 votes respectively over the Congress. In PDP held Mendhar, Congress led by about 2500 votes over PDP and about 22,000 votes over BJP.