PM, Shah reach Jammu to woo voters in 5th phase

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Dec 17, 2014 01:44 IST

In its bid to reap a rich electoral harvest in the final phase of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is rushing its top guns to the Jammu region to woo voters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed two public meetings — first in Kathua and then in Jammu — on Tuesday.

This will be followed by rallies by Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah and several senior Union ministers.

All eyes are now on the 20 constituencies in Rajouri, Jammu and Kathua districts that will go to polls on December 20 in the fifth and final phase of the assembly elections.

Counting of votes will be held on December 23 for the 87-seat J&K assembly.

An assessment by the state BJP after the first four phases of polling suggests that the party might find it difficult to open its account from any of the 46 seats in the Kashmir Valley that could also put a dampener on its ambitious Mission 44+ target.

But the state leaders expect to win at least 25 of 37 seats from the Jammu region where the party is riding on Modi’s popularity.

A Kashmir-based BJP leader, on the condition of anonymity, said the party was initially hoping to win around 30-35 seats from the Jammu region alone and was looking set to achieve that in the initial stages.

“A dominant sentiment was clearly in favour of the BJP, following statements that the state would, for the first time, will have a Hindu chief minister from Jammu,” he said. “But the ambiguity on Article 370 and U-turns on other issues may mar our chances now.”

The BJP is now deploying its heavyweights for the final push to recover lost ground.

The Congress, on the other hand, is plagued by infighting, which is likely to affect the party’s chances in the region.

A Congress functionary said the candidates have been left to fend for themselves and top leaders are campaigning for those belonging to their respective camps only.

“The panic among the cadre over Modi’s rallies is palpable and that is the reason why our candidates are demanding a few more public meetings by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

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