Udhampur Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Intense Contest As Jitendra Singh & Lal Singh Chaudhary Vie For Their 3rd Terms

Udhampur Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Intense Contest As Jitendra Singh & Lal Singh Chaudhary Vie For Their 3rd Terms

In the Udhampur constituency, a total of 12 candidates are vying for victory this year, including G.M Saroori, fielded by the party of former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Rahul MUpdated: Thursday, April 11, 2024, 08:50 AM IST
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In the geographically extensive Lok Sabha constituency of Udhampur, one of the largest in India, there's intense competition brewing for the Lok Sabha elections. Both the Congress party and the BJP have fielded candidates who have served as MPs twice before. Representing the BJP, Union Minister Jitendra Singh is in the fray, while Lal Singh Chaudhary represents the Congress party. Chaudhary served as the MP from Udhampur for the Congress party from 2004 to 2009, whereas Jitendra Singh won as a BJP candidate for the first time in 2014 and reclaimed his seat in the lower house of Parliament in 2019. Interestingly, in 2014, during Jitendra Singh's debut election campaign, Chaudhary supported him as he was then aligned with the BJP. Despite a brief stint with his own party in 2019, Chaudhary has now returned to the Congress fold.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir currently has five Lok Sabha seats allocated for its representation in Lok Sabha. This allocation came about after the administrative reorganization of the region, which occurred when Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated. Prior to this reorganisation, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had six members representing it in lower house of Parliament.

The Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency, slated for voting in the initial phase on April 19, spans across five districts: Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban, and encompasses a total of 16 Assembly constituencies.

In the Udhampur constituency, a total of 12 candidates are vying for victory this year, including G.M Saroori, fielded by the party of former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

According to political analysts, Ghulam Nabi Azad's party could cut into the vote share of the Congress party in Udhampur, while it is also believed that the support of INDIA Bloc partners National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party will benefit Congress.

BJP candidate Jitendra Singh, the current MP from Udhampur, defeated Congress candidate Vikramaditya Singh in the 2019 elections by nearly 360,000 votes. When Jitendra Singh first became an MP in 2014, he defeated the veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, by over sixty thousand votes. Jitendra Singh, who is a Minister in the Modi government, is being actively campaigned for by several prominent BJP leaders in Udhampur. Central Minister Anurag Thakur, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself are rallying for Jitendra Singh to solicit votes.

The Congress initially faced challenges in selecting a candidate for the Udhampur constituency. Eventually, Lal Singh Choudhary was chosen as the Congress nominee. However, the party received criticism following this decision, as Choudhary had previously attended a rally supporting the accused in a highly publicised case involving the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from the Bakarwal community, a nomadic Muslim tribe. At the time, Choudhary held the position of Minister for Forest, Environment, and Ecology in the BJP-PDP government.

Following Choudhary's departure from the BJP in protest of the government's decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the CBI initiated a case regarding land acquisition against an educational trust operated by his family. Subsequently, in 2019, he established his own political party and placed fourth in the Lok Sabha elections, securing a mere 20,000 votes. In November 2023, he was detained by the Enforcement Directorate on charges related to money laundering.

While campaigning for votes, BJP candidate Jitendra Singh emphasizes development initiatives, whereas Congress' Lal Singh criticizes BJP for its "divisive and communal politics." Lal Singh's speeches often revolve around the abrogation of Article 370, accusing the Modi government of stripping away Jammu and Kashmir's "identity" and exploiting its residents.

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