Jolt to Cong as 4 Councilors join BJP in Kathua, party eyeing Udhampur too

BJP State chief, Ravinder Raina talking to reporters at Jammu on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
BJP State chief, Ravinder Raina talking to reporters at Jammu on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

BJP woos Pawan back into party fold

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Oct 29: Congress today received a big jolt in the State after its four Councilors out of five who had won the Urban Local Bodies elections from Kathua town recently, joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) giving it a clear majority in 21 member Kathua Municipal Council (KMC).
Moreover, BJP is all set to gain control over Udhampur Municipal Council (UMC) as its senior leadership is in touch with the former Minister and MLA Udhampur, Pawan Gupta whose five Independent candidates have won from the town to bring him back in the party fold.
Four Congress candidates who joined BJP at a function at party headquarters here today in front of party’s State chief, Ravinder Raina, former Deputy CM Kavinder Gupta, former Minister and MLA , Kathua Rajiv Jasrotia, senior leader and Prabhari Kathua, Harinder Gupta and other senior party leaders were led by senior Congress leader and Councilor, Ward 9, Kathua, Naresh Sharma.
The other Councilors included Ajay Kumar, Rekha Devi and Renu Bala. They said that the main cause of joining the BJP for them was that they were highly impressed by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s policies and programmes for development of the country and upliftment of the people from all segments of society like ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ and development works of Union Minister and MP from Kathua- Doda Constituency, Dr Jitendra Singh.
Naresh Sharma also claimed support of two independents in 21 member house which will take the tally of BJP to 14. BJP had won eight seats while Congress got five seats and eight seats went to independents. Sharma said the public of Kathua has forced him to join BJP and boost the development of the town further.
Asserting that Kathua has become Congress free today, Raina said that day is not far when not a single person will like to align with Congress. He said all these four persons have won on their own merit and not as Congress candidates.
The BJP is also all set to gain control over the Udhampur Municipal Council (UMC) where the Party’s senior leaders have started negotiations with former Minister and MLA Udhampur, Pawan Gupta whose five candidates were also elected for UMC in the recently held elections.
According to party sources, senior BJP leaders including former Deputy Chief Minister, Kavinder Gupta had met Pawan Gupta in Udhampur few days back and discussed the issue with him. The BJP is all set to take Pawan Gupta back into party fold who had resigned from it during 2014 Assembly poll after he was denied ticket from Udhampur Assembly segment.
Gupta fought the elections as an independent candidate and won his seat despite the fact that Modi wave swept the elections across Jammu region with BJP winning 25 Assembly seats out of 37.
Sources said BJP during its Core Committee meeting here yesterday, which is the highest policy making body of Party’s State Unit has favoured bringing Gupta back into the party fold. Sources said all the Core Committee members were of the opinion that Gupta should be approached to join the party to strengthen its base more in Udhampur.
The issue has also been discussed at the national level by the State leadership and there is every possibility that within this week, Gupta may strike the deal, sources added.
In the 21 member Udhampur Municipal Council, Pawan Gupta has five members, while BJP has four, six members are of Panthers Party, four are other independents and two from Congress. After Pawan Gupta’s five members join the BJP, the Party’s tally will touch 9 in the House, which is short of two for majority.
Sources said BJP leadership is also in touch with other independents in the town and it is confident that it can muster their support in gaining the control on UMC.