The Jammu-Poonch parliamentary constituency scheduled for polling in the first phase on April 11 will witness a face-off between Congress-National Conference combine and Bharatiya Janata Party, however both parties are more 'worried' about a split in votes by BJP rebel candidate Choudhary Lal Singh.
The constituency, which covers the four bordering districts of Samba, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch of Jammu and Kashmir with 20 Assembly segments, has 1,98,3136 eligible voters, 95, 2339 of them women.
The seat has been a traditional Congress stronghold for thelongest period, although the BJP won it thrice in 1998, 1999 and 2014 Lok Sabhaelections.
In the last elections, riding high on 'Modi wave' BJPcandidate Jugal Kishor Sharma trounced Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma by awhopping 2,57,280 votes.
In 2014, Sharma had secured a record 6, 19,995 votes, 49.34percent of total electorate, while the runner up polled 3,62,715 votes, 28.87percent of the constituency electorate.
This time, the BJP has repeated its candidate as theCongress party fielded former minister Raman Bhalla, who earlier representedJammu's Gandhi Nagar constituency in the state legislative assembly.
The Peoples Democratic Party, which has considerable supportin Muslim dominated districts of Poonch and Rajouri and secured third spot in2014 with 1, 68,554 votes.
However, it has also not fielded any candidate in Jammuprovince this time apparently to ensure the secular vote does not get divided,thereby giving benefit to Congress, according to political analysts.
24 candidates are in the fray for the Jammu-Poonch seat ofwhich 12 are residents of Jammu district, nine are from Rajouri-Poonchdistricts, one each from Samba and Kathua districts and one candidate belongsto Harayana.
The BJP has put all its might behind the rallies addressedby its star campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appealing the people tovote for 'Modi Again'.
Congress party's campaign has revolved around listing BJP'sfailures to project aspirations of Jammu, suffering of border dwellers, plightof refugees and economically weak people.
But it appears contest is not going to be smooth sailing foreither BJP or Congress with both 'worried' about a split in votes that BJPrebel and former minister Choudhary Lal Singh could affect in the constituency.
Singh floated a new outfit, Dogra Swabhimaan Sangathan lastyear and has decided to test the waters in Jammu and Udhampur seats. Singh, aformer Congress man, joined BJP in 2014 ahead of the state assembly elections,was forced to resign from the then Mehbooba Mufti-led collation government inApril 2018 for participating in a rally organised by alleged supporters of theaccused in the infamous Kathua rape and murder case of a child.