17.81 lakh voters to decide fate of 22 candidates in Jammu-Reasi seat

  • RS Pura-JS segment has highest votes, Mata Vaishno Devi lowest
  • Among 2416 PSs, 223 vulnerable, 117 critical

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Apr 21: About 17.81 lakh voters will decide the fate of 22 candidates including BJP’s Jugal Kishore Sharma and Raman Bhalla of the Congress in Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary constituency which will go to polls on April 26. Campaigning will end in the evening of April 24.
Sharma has been seeking third consecutive term from Jammu seat and the contest is also replica of 2019 when he was involved in direct contest with Bhalla. Ankur Sharma of Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal and Jagdish Raj of BSP are among notable candidates in the fray who have made their presence felt among the electorates.

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As per the official figures, Jammu-Reasi seat has 17,81,545 voters including 9,21,462 male and 8,60,055 females. There are 28 transgender votes.
Like four other Parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu-Reasi seat is also based on 18 Assembly segments.

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RS Pura-Jammu South Assembly seat has highest number of 1,25,454 votes while Shri Mata Vaishno Devi seat in Reasi district has lowest number of 55737 electorates. Eight out of 18 Assembly constituencies have one lakh plus votes.
Jammu district holds the key to victory of the candidate having 11,90,099 votes while Samba district has 2,59,198 electorates and Reasi has 2,35,262 votes. Lone Assembly segment Kalakote-Sunderbani of Rajouri district has 96986 voters.
Among 18 Assembly constituencies in Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary seat, Jammu district has 11 seats, Reasi and Samba districts three each and Rajouri has one segment.
Among 2416 Polling Stations, 223 are vulnerable and 117 are critical while rest are normal. Reasi Assembly segment has highest number of 173 Polling Stations while Shri Mata Vaishno Devi seat has lowest number of 91 Polling Stations.
Five Assembly seats in Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary constituency are reserved for SCs and one for ST. They include Ramgarh, Bishnah, Suchetgarh, Marh and Akhnoor, all for SCs and Gulabgarh which has been reserved for ST.
The seat has been won by Congress on nine occasions, BJP four times, and one each by National Conference and an Independent candidate since its establishment in 1967.
Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary seat was till last election called as Jammu-Poonch seat comprising all Assembly constituencies of Jammu, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts. However, following delimitation; Rajouri and Poonch districts barring one Assembly seat of Kalakote-Sunderbani were linked with Anantnag (South Kashmir) and the seat was named as Anantnag-Rajouri-Poonch. Instead, Reasi district which was earlier part of Udhampur-Doda segment has now been included in Jammu constituency.
A direct contest is on the cards between sitting Member Parliament from BJP Jugal Kishore Sharma and INDIA bloc candidate and J&K Congress working president Ramban Bhalla, though there are 20 more candidates, including 12 Independents, in the fray including Jagdish Raj of Bahujan Samaj Party and Advocate Ankur Sharma of Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal.
Campaigning in Jammu has intensified with the contestants and their supporters pulling out all stops to woo the voters.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed a rally at Paloura on April 16, while Union Minister Anurag Thakur took part in a road show and accompanied Sharma when the latter filed his nomination on March 30.
Sharma, 61, whose candidature was declared by the BJP in the party’s first list of 195 candidates, had won Jammu Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and 2019 general election. His political rival, Raman Bhalla has been elected as MLA twice from Gandhi Nagar seat in 2002 and 2008 and served as the Cabinet Minister in Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress Government.
The Parliamentary elections are happening for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir after the erstwhile State was bifurcated into two Union Territories and its special status under Article 370 revoked on August 5, 2019.
Sharma, who had also won Assembly elections from Nagrota constituency of Jammu on the BJP ticket in 2002 and 2008 elections before heading the J&K unit of the party for a couple of years, will be banking on decisions taken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government and the putative developmental push in the last 10 years.
In 2019, Sharma defeated Bhalla by a margin of 3,02,875 votes, having secured 8,58,066 votes from the constituency.
In 2014, he defeated Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma by over 2.57 lakh votes scoring over 6.19 lakh votes.
“The Modi-led Government has taken a number of historic initiatives with the abrogation of Article 370, thus giving acceleration to the ongoing mega projects of development. Jammu and Kashmir has got a very fair deal in all matters at all levels under the Modi Government,” a BJP leader said.
He cited restoration of peace, eradication of terrorism, ceasefire along the borders and justice with deprived sections of the society as some of these decisions.
Besides development works, the BJP has also been banking on giving reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), women, Paharis, Valmikis and empowerment of downtrodden besides free ration, construction of houses under PM Awas Yojana, free health insurance of Rs 5 lakh to every individual and many other such schemes.
Bhalla, on the other hand, with regional heavy weights, National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, backing him under a pact with the INDIA bloc, is confident of an upset, in view of “resentment among the people over the wrong policies of the BJP-led Government.”
Congress star campaigner and former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan Sachin Pilot, and AICC in-charge J&K affairs, Bharatsinh Solanki, have addressed rallies in support of Bhalla.
The opposition parties have upped the ante over loss of Statehood, removal of special status under Article 370, and the failure of the BJP to hold Assembly, Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies elections.
They have been attacking the BJP over issues like inflation, unemployment, lack of development in the region, and promised massive investment, which, according to them, never came.