In Vijaypur assembly constituency, it is primarily a direct contest between two-time former minister of National Conference and Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, who is hoping to cash in on the Modi wave.
Sitting MLA, who is National Conference candidate and remained minister for four years in the present government, Surjit Singh Slathia is one of the prominent faces of the party from the Jammu region.
Mostly a border constituency, Vijaypur also has the biggest industrial area, Bari-Brahmana, in Jammu and Kashmir. In Vijaypur, 218 villages are situated along the International Border with Pakistan.
It is 10 km from Jammu and shares boundaries with Gandhi Nagar, Bishnah and Samba assembly constituencies. Earlier, Vijapur was part of Jammu district, but after the creation of new district it became part of Samba.
Locals complain of lack of development, dilapidated infrastructure, including power, water supply and condition of roads. They also allege nepotism, as only workers of the NC and kin of Salathia have benefitted from development in last six years.
Another issue is the demand of 5-marla land to border residents at safer places as they frequently had to bear the brunt of cross-border firing. In August and October, villages along the IB witnessed massive cross-border firing from Pakistan forcing lakhs to flee homes and take shelter in refugee camps.
Unemployment is another concern for locals. In the 2008 assembly elections, Salathia had promised government jobs to educated unemployed youth and for youth who have passed Classes 8 and 10. But no such selection process ever took place and the youth are feeling cheated.
Salathia a ‘strong’ contender
Salathia is locked in a direct contest with BJP candidate Chander Prakash Ganga whom he defeated in the last assembly elections in 2008.
A strong contender, Salathia was industries minister till 2013 before he was dropped from the cabinet. He wields huge clout in the area and has one won two out of the last three elections from Vijaypur.
Out of 47 sarpanches from Vijaypur, Salathia enjoys the support of at least 35. On November 26, he is going to hold a huge road show when he will file nomination papers.
It is the Modi wave, which is standing between Salathia and victory. As per local political analyst, if the Prime Minister holds a rally in Vijaypur or in some neighbouring area, it will reverse the fortunes.
Ganga banks on Modi wave
Chander Prakash Ganga failed to beat Salathia in 2008 despite a surcharged atmosphere due to the Amarnath land row. He is aiming to get support on the promise of 5-marla land to the border area residents and hoping to cash in on the Modi wave.
Ganga is also hoping that people will vote the same way they have voted in the parliamentary elections this year where BJP candidate took a lead of more than 23,000 votes against the NC-Congress coalition nominee. However, only time will tell how people will vote, as during parliamentary elections people had assured Salathia that in the assembly elections they will vote in his favour.
As per locals, Ganga’s main drawback is that he doesn’t gels with people easily and is not so friendly.
Congress candidate Manjit Singh is also no pushover. Manjit Singh defeated Salathia in the 2002 assembly elections when he was with the Bahujan Samaj Party. Till date the BJP, Congress and PDP candidates have filed nomination papers and Manjit Singh’s cavalcade was the largest as 3,000-strong crowd accompanied him.
Manjit, too, is expected to get good share of votes, though it might not lead him to victory. But Manjit’s joining the poll fray has boosted Salathia’s chances as otherwise those voters would have shifted to the BJP.
People’s Democratic Party candidate Harmesh Slathia won’t be able to gain much and it appears that he will be fighting for a position.