Secure Udhampur awaits March 18 polls
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in
Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur parliamentary
constituency, where polls have been rescheduled from
March 7 to March 18.
Once a strong bastion of the Congress and
three times represented
by Dr Karan Singh, former Union minister and Rajya Sabha member,
Udhampur is the state's second largest
constituency in area as well as electorate. Ladakh tops
the chart in this division.
Polling in Udhmapur was postponed due to adverse weather in the
Although 15 candidates are in the fray, it is a direct fight between Rajendersingh Chib of the National Conference
and sitting MP Professor Chaman Lal Gupta of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Apart from four candidates of recognised national and regional
parties, five Independents are also in the arena.
The NC had boycotted the Lok Sabha election in 1996, but this time the party fielded Chib, a former Indian
Air Force officer who was earlier tourism and health minister in
the state government.
Represented by the Congress since 1967 when the first parliamentary
election was held in the state, the BJP wrested Udhampur in 1996 through Professor Gupta. He defeated
Congressman Janak Raj Gupta who, this time around, switched over to Jammu and lost to BJP candidate
Vaid Vishnu Dutt.
The Congress candidate for the seat is Thakur Randhir Singh, who
was a minister in the state's G M Sadiq ministry. He is seeking entry to the Lok Sabha for the first time.
Professor Bhim Singh of the Panthers Party is also in the fray. In the 1996
election he polled 23,000 votes, and was placed fifth.
Chief Electoral Officer S V Bhave said polling
arrangements were complete in all the 13,876
stations. Of this, 488 booths have
been declared sensitive.
Udhampur has an electorate of 1.015 million.
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