BJP retains 3 seats with increased victory margin

Gets lead in 28 Assembly seats

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, May 23: Riding on the crest of the Modi wave coupled with developmental works, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today became major dominant force in Jammu and Ladakh regions of the State, where it not only retained all three Parliamentary constituencies it had won in 2014 but recorded huge increase in victory margin notwithstanding that it faced combined Opposition with National Conference and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) joining hands to support Congress in Jammu and Udhampur and Independent in Ladakh to defeat the BJP but failed miserably.

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The Congress, like 2014, not only drew a blank in the State but lost ground further in Jammu and Ladakh regions, which used to be its strongholds till 2014 when they were first annexed by the BJP and now again when the saffron party not only retained them but humbled the Congress by raising its victory margins heavily, thus, further reducing the Congress vote bank.
BJP candidate Dr Jitendra Singh won Udhampur seat for the second time with a margin of 3,57,252 votes while BJP leader Jugal Kishore Sharma retained Jammu seat with 3,02,875 votes and Jamyang Tsering Namgyal made his maiden entry in the Lok Sabha winning Ladakh constituency with 10,930 votes.

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Such was the stunning performance of the BJP that its candidates secured leads in 28 Assembly segments out of a total of 41 in Jammu and Ladakh regions. Congress led in 12 while Independent Sajjad Kargili secured lead in one Assembly constituency. BJP led in 15 out of 20 Assembly constituencies of Jammu seat, 10 out of 17 segments in Udhampur and three out of four in Ladakh seat.
Returning Officer Jammu, Ramesh Kumar, Returning Officer Kathua, Vikas Kundal and Returning Officer Leh, Avny Lavasa declared final results of three Lok Sabha seats late tonight after counting of postal ballots.
However, the Congress, NC and PDP alliance in Jammu region had something to worry for the BJP as the party trailed in Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and Doda Assembly constituencies, which were won by it in 2014 Assembly polls. But despite `Mahagathbandhan’, the lead was not impressive as it was just 300 in Kishtwar, about 2500 in Bhaderwah and 6300 in Doda.
While Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma, won Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha seats for second consecutive terms for the BJP, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, sitting Chairman and Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, won Ladakh seat for the saffron party in a keenly fought battle but, in the end, winning up comfortably with 10,930 votes as compared to last time’s razor thin margin of 36 votes recorded by Thupstan Chhewang. NC, PDP and Islamiya School (ISK) backed candidate, Sajjad Kargili finished second on Ladakh seat. Namgayal made it to the Lok Sabha for the first time.
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh’s victory margin of over 3.57 lakh votes in Udhampur Lok Sabha seat was about six times higher than 2014 general election. It figured among about 10 highest victory margins in the country and was highest ever in Jammu and Kashmir including current Lok Sabha polls. According to political observers, no candidate had won with over 3.57 lakh votes in the State so far.
Former Minister Choudhary Lal Singh forfeited security deposit in both Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha seats securing 19049 and 7539 votes respectively. Singh had contested both the seats as Dogra Swabhiman Front candidate. National Panthers Party (NPP) president, Harshdev Singh, former Minister and party supremo Prof Bhim Singh also met the similar fate on Udhampur and Jammu Parliamentary seats respectively losing security deposits. Harshdev, however, secured 24319 votes and finished ahead of Lal Singh in Udhampur while Bhim Singh mustered only 14276 votes on Jammu seat.
In his home town of Basohli, which Lal Singh and his wife Kanta Andotra had together represented four times in the Assembly since 1996, Singh could get only 4894 votes as against Jitendra’s 43125. Significantly, Lal Singh had represented Udhampur Lok Sabha seat twice in 2004 and 2009 on the Congress mandate and had switched over to BJP in 2014 after being denied mandate by the party for third time.
Similar was the case with Harshdev Singh, who mustered only 12209 votes in home Assembly constituency of Ramnagar, which he had represented thrice while Dr Jitendra got 61162 votes there.
BSP candidates on Jammu and Udhampur constituencies-Badri Nath and Tilak Raj Bhagat–too failed to make their presence felt and polled just 14276 and 16601 votes respectively, only to lose their security deposits.
Dr Jitendra defeated Vikramaditya Singh, the son of former Sadar-e-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Karan Singh in Udhampur, a Parliamentary seat that Karan Singh had represented thrice, with huge margin of 3.57 lakh votes. Jitendra polled 7,24,311 votes while Vikramaditya could manage only 3,67,059 votes.
BJP’s sitting MP from Jammu-Poonch, Jugal Kishore Sharma secured 8,58,066 votes as against Congress candidate Raman Bhalla’s 5,51,187, recording a victory margin of 3,02,875.
Such was the BJP wave in Kathua and Udhampur belts totaling eight Assembly seats that BJP led in each of these segments by around 50,000 to 60,000 votes, barring small constituency of Bani. The BJP lead was also around 50,000 in Reasi Main.
In 2014 election, Dr Jitendra Singh in his maiden political foray had won Udhampur seat defeating former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Congress veteran, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who didn’t contest the election this time, by a margin of 62,000 votes. Azad is presently Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
This time, Dr Jitendra Singh’s margin went up manifold to 3.57 lakh.
Jugal Kishore Sharma of BJP too improved his victory margin from 2014 election as he won by over 3 lakh votes on Jammu-Poonch seat defeating Congress stalwart and former Minister, Raman Bhalla, who was fielded by the party replacing two-time MP Madan Lal Sharma. In 2014, Jugal’s victory margin was 2.57 lakh.
In Ladakh Parliamentary seat, BJP candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, sitting Chairman-cum-CEC of LAHDC Leh recorded impressive victory margin of 10,930 votes over NC, PDP and Islamiya School Kargil joint candidate, Sajjad Kargili. Namgayal polled 42,914 votes as against Sajjad Karigili’s 31984.
Two other candidates in fray in Ladakh including Haji Asgar Karbalaie, former Congress MLA from Kargil and Rigzin Spalbar (Congress) finished third and fourth with 29365 and 21241 votes respectively. Karbalaie contested the election as an Independent.
Namgayal led in three out of four Assembly segments of Ladakh including Leh, Nubra and Zanskar while Kargili got lead in Kargil only. The BJP lead in Muslim-dominated Zanskar was surprising, though not unexpected, as the party had promised district status to Zanskar, a long pending demand of the people after which the locals had decided to vote enmasse for the BJP.
Karbalaie was backed by another powerful religious body, the Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT). He was in the fray as rebel Congress candidate.
Though this is Jamyang’s maiden entry to Lok Sabha, the BJP won Ladakh seat for second consecutive term. In 2014, Thupstan Chhewang had won the seat for the BJP for the first time with just 36 votes. However, Chhewang had resigned from the BJP and from the Lok Sabha membership last year. Later, he had shunned the active politics. In 2004, Thupstan had won Ladakh seat as an Independent candidate.
Political observers described as very significant the BJP not only maintaining its tally of three Lok Sabha seats from Jammu and Kashmir but increasing victory margin drastically despite the support of two major regional parties, the NC and PDP to the BJP opponents on all three seats.
They said the Opposition specifically wanted to defeat Dr Jitendra Singh, who had become the voice of nationalist forces in Jammu and Kashmir across the country and had made his place among top brass of the BJP at national level. Not only the Opposition, even some BJP leaders too did their best to defeat Dr Jitendra Singh but he not only won the seat but his victory margin was highest ever in the State so far and among 10 top victory margins in the country.
Figures revealed that the BJP dominated all 13 Assembly constituencies of Jammu and Samba districts and two segments of Rajouri district including Kalakote and Nowshera while Congress got leads in five remaining Assembly seats of Rajouri, Budhal, Poonch, Surankote and Mendhar. Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary seat is based on 20 Assembly constituencies.
In Ladakh, neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor BJP president Amit Shah addressed a rally though both had canvassed in Jammu and Udhampur seats. However, State unit of the BJP led by Ravinder Raina, president camped in Ladakh for over 20 days and worked hard to ensure the BJP victory. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Ministers, Dr Jitendra Singh, Kiren Rijiju and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu had campaigned in Ladakh.
The BJP victory in three Parliamentary constituencies came at a time when the Assembly elections were due in the State.
While the BJP repeated it’s both sitting MPs-Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma on Udhampur and Jammu seats, the Congress changed its two candidates Ghulam Nabi Azad and Madan Lal Sharma, who had lost 2014 elections and replaced them with Vikramaditya Singh and Raman Bhalla. Congress had also changed its candidate T Samphel in Ladakh with Rigzin Spalbar.