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BJP has itself to blame in Jammu (News Analysis)

National,Politics, Sat, 16 May 2009 IANS

Jammu, May 16 (IANS) The Congress' being part of the state government helped it clinch both the parliamentary seats in the Jammu region while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost owing to its choice of candidates, say residents and political activists alike.


The Congress, which partners the National Conference government in Jammu and Kashmir, had fielded its sitting MPs from the Jammu and Udhampur constituencies. The BJP lost despite having made big gains in the Jammu region in the assembly polls last year.



In Jammu, the Congress' Madan Lal Sharma was pitted against the BJP's Leela Karan Sharma, former convenor of the Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti who had led two months of protests last year for land to Amarnath pilgrims.



The decision of Leela Karan Sharma to capitalise on his role in the protests evidently put off many in the Jammu region, who believed that he showed his ulterior motives by contesting.



'It was disappointing to see a man swearing he would have nothing to do with politics contesting the polls. It was a shame,' said Mukesh Gupta, a resident of Miran Sahib, a suburban locality here.



The Congress had an advantage on two counts. First, it was part of the government that rules Jammu and Kashmir, which may have prompted fencesitters to go for it. Secondly, the euphoria of the Amarnath protests that had delivered 11 seats to the BJP in assembly elections last year had faded.



'I say, this is a victory of the people,' Madan Lal Sharma said. 'They have voted for me and my party because they have seen that we work for their welfare and not play the negative politics of agitation and dividing people.'



In Udhampur constituency, where BJP leader Nirmal Singh has a track record of not winning a single election since 1999, met the same fate yet again. His Congress rival and sitting MP Lal Singh romped home.



'This time it was a tough fight, but I am happy that people reposed faith in me,' Lal Singh told his supporters as they danced to drumbeats.



Lal Singh and his wife Kanta Andotra had lost the assembly election from Kathua and Basholi Assembly constituencies respectively, both of which form part of the Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency.



Many BJP cadres were unhappy that Leela Karan Sharma, an outsider, was given the nomination while old timers were ignored, and Nirmal Singh was given a ticket despite his record of losing all the elections he had contested, observers say.



'The BJP was on a suicidal path from the very beginning when it chose its candidates,' Ravinder Singh, a party worker said. 'The two (BJP candidates) did not inspire workers, nor did they have any issue and that's what resulted in their defeat,' he said.



The Congress-National Conference combine has won five of the six seats in Jammu and Kashmir, including the two seats in Jammu. The BJP has won none while an independent has won the Ladakh seat.



-Indo-Asian News Service





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