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Ayodhya will take the backseat while Jammu will enter the polls in the second phase

Vaseline 2 months ago

Image of an entourage of pilgrims on their way to Amarnath in the Kashmir Valley, in Jammu and Kashmir, used for representational purposes.

Image of an entourage of pilgrims on their way to Amarnath in the Kashmir Valley, in Jammu and Kashmir, used for representational purposes.

JAMMU: The ‘city of temples’ Jammu will vote in the second phase of elections on April 26. Going by the campaigns of various parties, the issues of development, abrogation of Article 370, peaceful border, removal of the state and unemployment are the key words. factors in the elections. The consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has not found much traction in the ongoing parliamentary polls.

The seat of Jammu Lok Sabha is spread over four districts of Jammu, Samba, Reasi and a constituency of Rajouri district. There are as many as 22 candidates in the fray, but the main contest is between BJP MP Jugal Kishore and Jammu and Kashmir Congress working president Raman Bhalla.

The main contenders are busy organizing small gatherings on street corners to reach out to the common man. A total of 17,80,738 voters, including 9,21,053 men and 8,59,657 women, are eligible to vote in the constituency.

The BJP has focused its campaign on the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, the development works and public welfare programs launched after the abrogation of Article 370, peaceful borders, decline in militancy and end of stone pelting.

The Ram temple issue has also been raised by the party leaders during their campaigns, but not very sharply. This is despite the fact that Jammu is known as the city of temples and temples can be found everywhere.

“We focused on development. There has been a lot of public-oriented development in Jammu and Poonch and people are happy. Their problems are solved. People know that only Prime Minister Narendra Modi can take the country forward and make India Viksit Bharat (developed country),” said BJP MP and candidate for Jammu seat Jugal Kishore.

About the construction of Ram Mandir, he said that sentiments of people were related to Ayodhya temple and people also remember its construction as well as demolition of triple talaq and abrogation of Article 370.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in January this year. In 2019, the Supreme Court gave land to Hindus after a protracted legal battle followed by the demolition of Babri Masjid.

The Congress, on the other hand, is focusing its campaign on the consequences of abolishing Article 370, including the “taking away” of the state, the rise in unemployment and crime.

“Our campaign focuses on the recovery of the state, corruption during these years, unemployment and crime,” Congress spokesperson Ravindra Sharma said.

A college teacher, Pankaj Kumar, said religion and politics should not be linked. “The construction of the Ram temple is very dear to us. It is our religious issue but the polls are not being contested on religious grounds but on roads, electricity, drinking water, development and job creation,” he said.

“We want jobs for our young people. The government that comes to power must develop a system that provides employment to unemployed youth so that they can lead a decent life,” Kumar added.

Rohit Kumar said that Jammu has a mixed population. “Muslims and Hindus have been living in harmony for years and we do not want to damage this relationship by unnecessarily hyping religious issues.”

He said that the construction of the Ram Temple is undoubtedly a very historic development and sentiments of Hindus from all parts of the country, including Jammu Muslims, are associated with it.

“When the Ram temple was constructed, puja was held here in every area and Muslims also contributed in setting up pandals and raised our religious flags on their houses to express their solidarity with us,” Rohit said.

According to locals, even during the 2008 land dispute, there was communal harmony among Muslims and Hindus in Jammu.

“It is not the time to play politics on religion. We want our new MP to focus on eliminating the menace of drug addiction and crime by providing jobs to the youth.”

Jammu has been marred by anti-government protests for the past three years, tarnishing the image of the BJP. There were protests from applicants after at least three recruitment lists came under the scanner over reported scams. Rising electricity prices and the installation of defective smart meters also led to protests.

However, it is believed that the BJP’s move to set up a Tirupati Balaji temple amid the scenic Shivalik forests in Majeen, Jammu, and run direct fast trains to Katra, where the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine has been established, has regained some Hindu votes.