While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced 32 out of the 37 candidates for Jammu province, the announcement of names for the remaining five segments are still on hold, as there are many candidates, including some heavyweights, in fray for the tickets that has put the BJP high command in a fix.
However, it’s the three important assembly constituencies -- Gandhinagar, Nagrota and Billawar -- which have become the hotspots for the BJP leadership.
The Nagrota constituency had fallen vacant after BJP MLA Jugal Kishore successfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The constituency since 2002 has witnessed quite interesting contests between the Brahmins and the Rajputs, with BJP candidate Jugal Kishore Sharma winning over his arch-rival Ajatshatru Singh of the Congress by narrow margins. Ajatshatru lost the 2002 elections by 56 votes, while in 2008, he lost by around 1,400 votes.
“Since the seat is vacant and Ajatshatru has joined BJP, the party has plans to nominate Ajatshatru as the candidate, while not considering Jugal’s brother Nand Kishore Sharma to avoid familial politics,” said a BJP source privy to the party affairs, adding that the name of Shakti Sharma, secretary Brahmin Sabha, who also have close affiliation to Vishwa Hndu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Amarnath Sangahrsh Yatra Samiti, was also making the rounds since his father was held in high esteem in the constituency.
In Gandhinagar, the situation is a bit different as the sitting MLA from Congress, Raman Bhalla, is a strong candidate and the BJP is finding it hard to field Nirmal Singh, BJP’s national executive member, who had lost to Bhalla in the last two assembly elections.
“Since Nirmal is close to a high profile parliamentary board member, his candidature has put everything on hold,” says the source. BJP is mulling on fielding Manmohan Singh, a former Jat mayor, who has defected to the BJP from of the Congress. Bhalla was once a close confidante of Manmohan.
Nirmal, meanwhile, has expressed his desire to contest the Billawar seat. However, the presence of local man Satish Sharma, who has made a good clout in Billawar and had participated in Amarnath land row actively, is a front-runner. “Had Satish been given the right backing at the right time in 2008, he would have brought down Congress MLA Manohar Lal’s citadel, where BJP lost unfortunately,” the source said.
“I have been interacting with the people here and they are reposing faith in the party and me. I lost in 2008 by a whisker. I am fully prepared to win the 2014 elections. I fail to understand why a person who is alien to the constituency is being even considered for this seat,” said Satish, expressing anguish.
Meanwhile, another source privy to developments in Delhi informed that a high profile member of the BJP parliamentary board, who is also a cabinet minister in Narendra Modi’s government, has been backing Satish Sharma's candidature.
Nirmal Singh could not be contacted for his comments.