Election campaign for Udhampur Lok Sabha seat ends

Lok Sabha Election 2024 in Jammu and Kashmir

JAMMU — The election campaign in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur parliamentary constituency ended this evening whereas voting is to be held from 7 am to 6 pm on April 19 in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections.

According to the news agency KNO, smaller parties and independents along with the major parties have also put their full strength into the election campaign in the Udhampur Lok Sabha, which is one the biggest constituencies in India in terms of the area and has over 15 lakh votes.

There are 12 candidates in the fray for the Udhampur seat which is heading towards a direct battle between BJP and the Congress.

However, the main contest is between BJP’s Dr Jitendra Singh and Congress party’s Choudhary Lal Singh. Both BJP and Congress candidates represented the constituency for two terms from 2014-2024 and 2004 to 2014, respectively and are now seeking a third term in this election.

So far Udhampur Lok Sabha seat is the most discussed as sitting MP and Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh of BJP had to face opposition from the former MP Choudhary Lal Singh of Congress. On the last day of campaigning, Jitendra Singh focused on the Kathua district whereas Lal Singh visited hills of the Doda and Kishtwar districts to make a last-minute push.

The constituency is spread over five districts including Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Udhampur and Kathua and consists of 18 assembly constituencies including Udhampur West, Udhampur East, Chenani and Ramnagar (SC) of Udhampur. Bani, Billawar, Basohli, Jasrota, Kathua (SC) and Hiranagar of Kathua. Inderwal, Kishtwar and Padder–Nagseni of Kishtwar. Bhadarwah, Doda and Doda West of Doda and Ramban and Banihal of Ramban.

The importance of the seat has been gauged by the fact that for BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Information Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, BJP Muslim face Shahnawaz Hussain and other Central and State unit leaders continually campaigned for Dr Singh in past two weeks.

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Congress party also put weight on its star campaigners Sachin Pilot, Raj Babar and Imran Partapgarhi for Udhampur along with full help from the National Conference, from which two former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, conducted road shows and held rallies in various areas of Udhampur and Chenab belt to garner votes for Chaudhary Lal Singh, the INDIA alliance candidate as per pact between Congress and National Conference.

The local leaders of both parties have extensively visited each and every corner of their area to seek votes for their candidates. These grassroots leaders have the toughest and biggest task of selecting, training and preparing the party agents in all polling stations so that the voting process is smooth and most of their supporters come and vote on April 19.

Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also fielded Ghulam Mohammad Saroori on his DPAP mandate, which is giving sleepless nights to opponents, particularly Congress due to Azad’s strong footing in the Chenab Valley area. Over 6,99,816 voters from three districts of Chenab Valley are able to change the fate of any candidate. Azad is leading the campaign from the front and holds rallies in Kathua, Udhampur and all districts of Doda.

According to sources, though the candidates are working overtime to cover the areas, it is said that there were many areas where they could not visit due to the paucity of time. Dr Singh and Choudhary Lal Singh used helicopters to speed up their campaign.

According to the figures provided by the office of the Returning Officer Udhampur Parliamentary Constituency, there are 16,23,195 registered voters in the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat including 8,45,283 male, 7,77,899 female and 13 transgender electors.

Over 9,22,783 lakh voters of Kathua and Udhampur district will remain a critical factor in these polls. Besides Choudary Lal Singh, no other candidate is in the fray from the Kathua district while out of 12, six candidates including former minister G M Saroori are from Chenab Valley.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 2637 polling stations across the constituency, of which 2,457 are situated in rural areas and 180 in urban areas, ensuring accessibility and convenience for voters from all corners of the constituency.

Of notable mention is the inclusion of 23,637 Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) within the electoral roll, encompassing 14,362 males and 9,275 females. The young voters, aged 18-19 years, stand at 45,825 male voters, 38,641 female voters and 2 transgender, totalling 84,468 potential first-time voters. The constituency boasts a considerable elderly population, with 12,020 male voters and 13,612 female voters aged 80 and above, totalling 25,632 seasoned voters contributing to the electoral discourse.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s candidate Dr Jitendra Singh won from Udhampur with a total of 7,24,311 votes. Vikramaditya Singh, the nominee of the Indian National Congress, received 3,67,059 votes. The BJP secured a majority of 61 per cent in the polls.

Similarly, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Dr Jitendra Singh had won from Udhampur, securing 4,87,369 votes. He defeated then-Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad of Indian National Congress with a margin of 60,976 votes. Azad got 4,26,393 Votes.

Moreover, the election commissioner of India representatives have finalized the arrangements for the first phase of polling in Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency and all the polling parties were finalized and will be deputed to their respective areas by tomorrow afternoon.

Robust security arrangements have been put in place and chief electoral officer J&K has been monitoring the arrangements. Election observers, police observers and other observers have visited extensively all the areas to ensure that free and fair elections are held everywhere.

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