Tribune News Service
Jammu, March 26
Even as PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has announced the decision not to field any party candidate from the two Lok Sabha seats of the Jammu province to avoid the division of “secular votes”, Congress candidates are hesitating to involve PDP leaders in the campaigning, fearing backlash from voters.
“People of the Jammu region have not taken kindly the recent statements of top PDP leaders in support of the Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF. So, involving them in our campaign in most areas would prove to be counter-productive,” a senior Congress leader, wishing anonymity, told The Tribune. He said the party leadership was in a dilemma over directly involving PDP leaders in electioneering.
“To restore its lost ground in the Kashmir valley, PDP leaders are out to appease separatists by issuing highly provocative statements. Hence, involving them in the campaign would provide an opportunity to the BJP to exploit the situation,” he said.
While filing their nomination papers, the Congress candidates made it a point to take National Conference leaders with them, but they have avoided involving PDP leaders.
On Tuesday, Congress candidate Raman Bhalla, along with party leaders, addressed a series of public meetings in the Nowshere Assembly segment of Rajouri district, but PDP leader Surinder Choudhary was conspicuously missing during the rallies.
During the 2014 Assembly elections, Choudhary was the runner-up from this Hindu-majority constituency and had secured over 28,000 votes.
The Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha constituency is going to witness a contest between BJP candidate Jugal Kishore Sharma and Congress nominee Raman Bhalla.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, PDP candidate Yash Pal Sharma had secured 1,68,554 votes from the Jammu-Poonch seat while party nominee on the Udhampur-Doda seat Mohammad Arshad Malik got 30,461 votes.
Up against BJP
- After the NC sealed a seat-sharing pact with the Congress on three out of the total six Lok Sabha seats in the state, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti announced on Saturday not to field any candidates on the two Lok Sabha seats in the Jammu region to facilitate victory of Congress candidates
- The PDP has strong base in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri which are part of the Jammu-Poonch parliamentary seat while the party’s presence is negligible in the Udhampur-Doda seat
People of the Jammu region have not taken kindly the recent statements of top PDP leaders in support of the Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF. So, involving them in our campaign in most areas would prove to be counter-productive— A senior Congress leader