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Posted at: Dec 2, 2014, 11:41 AM; last updated: Dec 2, 2014, 11:44 PM (IST)

Panthers Party feeling heat as BJP goes all out in Udhampur

Panthers Party feeling heat as BJP goes all out in Udhampur
An elderly voter being carried out of a polling station in Udhampur on Tuesday. PTI

Dinesh Manhotra

Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 2

For the first time since the 1996 state elections, the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) is facing a stiff challenge in the party citadel of Ramnagar and two other Assembly segments of Udhampur district that went to polls today.

In the 2002 Assembly elections, the JKNPP had won an all-time high four seats, including the three seats of Udhampur district, and was part of the coalition government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Although Panthers Party candidate Yash Pal Kundal won two successive elections from the Samba Assembly segment since 2002, the constituency was never considered a stronghold of the party.

The future of the JKNPP depends heavily on the outcome in the Udhampur, Chenani and Ramnagar Assembly segments where the party has strong base.

Ramnagar has emerged as the party fortress over the years with JKNPP stalwart and former Education Minister Harsh Dev Singh consolidating his position by winning all the three Assembly elections from the seat since 1996.

Harsh Dev Singh has not only retained the seat, but his vote share has increased with every election.

While in 1996 Harsh Dev Singh secured 11,079 votes and won the seat by a narrow margin, he fetched 29,914 votes in 2002. In the last Assembly election the senior leader secured 30,609 votes.

However, the outspoken leader is feeling the heat this time around as the BJP has made all out efforts to wrest the seat from the Panthers Party.

BJP had nominated RS Pathania for the seat, who till recently represented the Congress.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had got 33,588 votes from the segment in comparison to JKNPP’s 10,805 votes.

As far as Udhampur is concerned, JKNPP’s Balwant Singh Mankotia is facing a serious challenge from BJP’s Pawan Khajuria and Independent Pawan Gupta. In 2008 Assembly elections, the Panthers party had won the seat by a narrow margin.

The party’s performance in the 2014 parliamentary polls was also not impressive. It just got 4,483 votes as against BJP’s 49623 votes from the segment.

Buoyed by the overwhelming support in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has pressed all its resources into service to win all the three Assembly seats in Udhampur district.

Even teams from Uttar Pradesh were working in different areas of Udhampur district to ensure victory of BJP candidates.


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