After Modi, Shah to be in Jammu for 2 days to finalize BJP’s 6 LS candidates

BJP chief to discuss Assembly polls’ timing
Will address 60,000 Election Booth Incharge
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Feb 4: Just a day after high-profile visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, BJP national president Amit Shah has scheduled his two-day visit to Jammu region on February 24 and 25 to give final touch to six candidates of the BJP for Lok Sabha seats as the party has decided to go it alone in the Parliamentary polls and also firm up the BJP opinion on holding of Assembly elections simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls or not.
On February 24, Shah, who will be accompanied by BJP general secretary (Organizations), Ram Lal, another general secretary and party’s pointman on Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav and Avinash Rai Khanna, will address 60,000 ‘Election Booth Incharge’ of Jammu region at ‘Panna Parmukh Sammelan’. Venue of the address is being finalized by the State BJP leadership as, apart from 60,000 Booth Incharge of the party, other BJP leaders and office bearers would also join the function.
BJP insiders told the Excelsior that Amit Shah along with other senior national party leaders will hold crucial meeting with State unit office bearers, Members of Parliament (MPs), former MLAs, MLCs and other senior leaders to discuss names of the party candidates for Lok Sabha elections, which will be held in April-May. Names of the Lok Sabha candidates are formally approved by the BJP Parliamentary Board.
“Amit Shah will hold consultations with senior party leaders, who have been looking after the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir including Ram Lal, Ram Madhav and Avinash Rai Khanna, State BJP president Ravinder Raina and other senior leaders including from Kashmir and Ladakh to give final touch to the names of party candidates for all six Parliamentary seats,” sources said.
They pointed out that the BJP high command was of the view that they were comfortably placed on two Lok Sabha seats of Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda but Ladakh has become a headache for them after the exit of Thupstan Chhewang, the first time BJP MP from Ladakh, who hasn’t only resigned from the BJP but also from Lok Sabha.
The BJP, sources confirmed, was in search of strong and potential candidate for Ladakh seat as the party felt that it wouldn’t be possible to win back Chhewang especially after he refused to attend yesterday’s function of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Leh. The BJP was considering few high-profile names for Ladakh seat and a final decision could be taken during Shah’s visit to Jammu as the party wants to retain Ladakh seat at any cost.
The BJP, it may be mentioned, had won three out of six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir during 2014 Parliamentary elections including Jammu-Poonch (Jugal Kishore Sharma), Udhampur-Doda (Dr Jitendra Singh) and Ladakh (Thupstan Chhewang). It had drawn blank in all three seats of the Kashmir valley, which were won by the PDP in 2014. However, in by-poll, NC president, Dr Farooq Abdullah had wrested Srinagar Lok Sabha seat from the PDP while Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is vacant.
The BJP has decided to field candidates on all three seats of Lok Sabha from the Valley though it feels that it has little chance there and its focus would remain two Lok Sabha seats of Jammu region and another of Ladakh region.
According to BJP sources, Amit Shah would hold two separate meetings with top party leaders to elicit their opinion on holding simultaneous Assembly elections with Lok Sabha and party’s preparedness for two elections jointly in April-May.
The BJP has officially taken a stand that it will go by any decision taken by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on holding Assembly elections in the State either with Lok Sabha polls or defer them for few months in view of security considerations.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir in the next few days to meet political parties and top officials of civil and police administration to take a call on holding Assembly elections in the State with Parliamentary polls or defer them. As State Legislative Assembly was dissolved on November 21, the Assembly elections had to be conducted before May 21 i.e. within six months of the Assembly dissolution. However, under exceptional circumstances, the Election Commission can defer the Assembly polls, which will lead to extension of President’s rule in the State.


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