Dr Jitendra, Jugal to seek 3rd term from Udhampur, Jammu LS constituencies

Modi, Shah, Rajnath in first BJP list of 195 candidates

*No decision yet on APR, Ladakh, two Kashmir seats

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh figured among 195 candidates in first list of the BJP released today after approval of the party Election Committee for Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held in April-May.
The list was released in New Delhi by BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde.
Modi will contest again from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Shah from Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Rajnath from Lucknow.

The BJP retained its two-time MPs-Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma–from Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha constituencies respectively to contest for third term in April-May Parliamentary polls but was yet to take call on prestigious Anantnag-Rajouri-Poonch (APR) seat besides Srinagar and Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir and lone Ladakh segment in the neighbouring UT which was part of erstwhile State in last Parliamentary elections.
Dr Jitendra Singh, who will be completing 10 years in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as the Union Minister with the completion of second term, and Jugal Kishore Sharma who besides being two-time Lok Sabha Member was also two-time MLA from Nagrota Assembly seat, have been repeated for Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha segments by the BJP Election Committee as the party released first list of 195 candidates.
The Election Committee considered four to five names for both Jammu and Udhampur constituencies but decided to bank upon again on the sitting MPs. However, the Committee didn’t announce candidate for another high-stake seat-Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri which has large number of Pahari votes. The Paharis were granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status last month, which was their long pending demand for the decades.
Names of BJP UT chief Ravinder Raina, a bureaucrat and some Pahari and Gujjar leaders are under consideration for APR Lok Sabha seat. Anantnag seat is presently held by National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is also a strong contender for this seat. However, INDIA bloc constituents-the NC, PDP and Congress are yet to take a call on six seats of J&K and Ladakh. NC is almost sure to contest Srinagar and Baramulla seats while the Congress is set to field its candidates on Jammu and Udhampur constituencies.
Sources said the BJP conducted detailed survey on most of the constituencies through credible agencies including Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha seats taking into account the chances of winnability, public outreach, accountability and various other aspects before finalizing the mandate.
Dr Jitendra Singh had defeated former Union Minister and J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2014 and Vikramaditya Singh son of Dr Karan Singh in 2019 while Jugal Kishore Sharma outclassed Madan Lal Sharma and Raman Bhalla. Madan Lal was two-time MP from Jammu seat having won it in 2004 and 2009 besides being Cabinet Minister in the erstwhile State Government.
BJP stalwart Prof Chaman Lal Gupta was elected for three consecutive terms to Lok Sabha from Udhampur constituency in 1996, 1998 and 1999. Prior to him, Dr Karan Singh held the seat four times. Now, Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore will be looking for hat-trick in their seats.
Besides Jammu and Udhampur, the BJP is also eyeing Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri seat this time to make foray into Kashmir for the first time where it hasn’t won Lok Sabha or even Assembly seat so far. Sources said the party is weghing all options before naming its candidate for the prestigious constituency. Options include whether to field UT chief Ravinder Raina from the seat or not.
Political observers are of the view that if both NC and PDP field their candidates on APR seat, the BJP will have bright prospects but if there is consensus candidate of the two parties, there will be tough contest. Former PCC chief GA Mir is also an aspirant for the seat but the Congress is interested in consensus among INDIA bloc parties.
The BJP has also drawn a panel for Srinagar and Baramulla Parliamentary constituencies.
The BJP had won Ladakh Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and 2019 and is hoping to retain it in 2024 also. However, the party is yet to announce its candidate for the seat.
A Physician by profession, Dr Jitendra Singh retained Udhampur Lok Sabha seat defeating Congress’ Vikramaditya Singh, the grandson of erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh, by 3,53,272 votes in 2019
As per officials, it was the highest margin of victory of any successful candidate in the erstwhile State. Singh had polled 7,24,311 votes against Vikramaditya Singh who got 3,67,059 votes.
In 2014, Dr Jitendra Singh had defeated former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad from the Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 60,976 votes. He was inducted in the Modi Government as the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.
In 2019, Jugal Kishore Sharma defeated Indian National Congress candidate Raman Bhalla by a margin of 3,02,875 votes after securing 8,58,066 votes from Jammu Parliamentary constituency. He had also won the seat for the BJP in 2014 when he defeated Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma by over 2.57 lakh votes after securing over 6.19 lakh votes.
Expressing satisfaction over Dr Singh and Sharma’s candidature from the two constituencies of the Jammu region, BJP UT chief Ravinder Raina said he is looking forward to win all five seats in the Union Territory, given the massive development work undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I am sure that we will win both seats of Jammu along with Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla,” he said.
PTI adds from New Delhi: Two former Chief Ministers — Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Biplab Kumar Deb — also figure in the BJP list which did not have many surprise omissions, as were in party’s lists for previous polls, except in Delhi where four sitting MPs including Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi, former Union minister Harsh Vardhan and Ramesh Bidhuri have been dropped.
Bidhuri was recently in the news for his controversial comments against opposition MP Danish Ali. The BJP has also dropped Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from Bhopal and Union Minister John Barla from Alipurduar. Union Ministers Meenakshi Lekhi and Rameswar Teli have also been dropped from their constituencies.
The list of candidates for the 195 constituencies included nearly 155 seats the party had won in the 2019 polls. In this list, the party has dropped over 20 per cent of its MPs.
Seven Ministers, who were members of Rajya Sabha and were expected to fight the Lok Sabha elections, have been fielded in the polls.
Jyotiraditya Scindia will contest from Guna (Madhya Pradesh), Sarbananda Sonowal from Dibrugarh (Assam), Bhupender Yadav from Alwar (Rajasthan), Rajeev Chandrashekhar from Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), V Muraleedharan Parshottam Rupala from Rajkot (Gujarat) and Mansukh Mandaviya from Porbandar (Gujarat).
Announcing the names of candidates, BJP national general secretary Vinod Tawde said they include 28 women, 47 persons below 50 years of age, 27 from Scheduled Castes, 18 from Scheduled Tribes and 57 from Other Backward Classes.
The first list has 51 seats from Uttar Pradesh, 24 from Madhya Pradesh, 20 from West Bengal, 15 each from Gujarat and Rajasthan, 12 from Kerala, nine from Telangana, 11 each from Assam, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, five from Delhi, three from Uttarakhand, two from Arunachal Pradesh and one each from Goa, Tripura, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Daman and Diu.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will fight again from Kota in Rajasthan and Shivraj Singh Chouhan returns to his former Parliamentary constituency Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, which he represented for five terms before taking over as the State’s Chief Minister in 2005.
Union Ministers Smriti Irani, will fight from Amethi again, Sarbananda Sonowal, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, G Kishan Reddy, Kiren Rijiju, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Arjun Ram Meghwal and Arjun Munda also figure in the list.
Modi had contested from Varanasi for first time in 2014 as he led the BJP to its maiden majority in Lok Sabha. Since then, Uttar Pradesh has become a saffron citadel, with the party sweeping Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the State.
Bhopal MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, whose controversial utterances have drawn flak several times, has been dropped.
Bansuri Swaraj, the daughter of the late BJP stalwart Sushma Swaraj, will make her poll debut from the New Delhi seat, replacing Lekhi.
Kamaljeet Sehrawat has replaced incumbent MP Parvesh Verma from West Delhi, MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri has come in place of Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi while Praveen Khadelwal, who heads a trading body, will contest from Chandni Chowk, edging out Harsh Vardhan.
Manoj Tiwari is the only sitting MP from the national capital who has been retained. He will again contest from North East Delhi while the BJP is yet to name candidates for two seats.
Bhojpuri singer and actor Pawan Singh has been fielded from Asansol in West Bengal, currently represented by TMC leader and actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha.
In UP, the party has fielded former BSP MP Ritesh Pandey from Ambedkar Nagar, while Hema Malini, Ravi Kishan, Ajay Mishra Teni, Mahesh Sharma, SPS Baghel and Sakshi Maharaj are among those being repeated from their seats.
In Jharkhand, former Congress MP Geeta Kora has been fielded from Singhbhum (ST reserved).