Poll campaign picks up in Jammu

April 11th, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Jammu, April 11 (IANS) After a slow start, campaigning has gained momentum in the Jammu region where polling will be held in two seats in the first two phases of the five-phase 2009 general elections.
The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have mobilised their star campaigners in Jammu and Kashmir, with the visiting leaders attracting good crowds.

“We are very happy with the response of the people,” Congress general secretary Prithviraj Chavan told reporters after addressing rallies where he promised 33 percent reservation to women in legislatures if Congress is voted back to power.

The party is now gearing itself for the big rallies to be addressed by party general secretary Rahul Gandhi. “We expect that the people would turn up in large numbers to listen to Rahul Gandhi and that would help us to a large extent,” state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz said.

Even as Congress is waiting for Rahul, the party’s legislators, at times joined by leaders of its alliance partner, the National Conference, are going all over the Jammu region to campaign.

The BJP is depending mostly on street rallies, and well as personal contact with the voters.

“The BJP has adopted a two-pronged strategy - one, we are holding rallies. Second, our cadres are visiting door to door,” the party’s state unit chief Ajay Khajuria said.

The party is invoking the “sense of discrimination” felt by Jammu region which has more population, more voters and more area, than the Kashmir Valley but still less political representation - two Lok Sabha seats as compared to three in the Valley and 37 Assembly seats against 46 in the Valley.

The PDP is concentrating on its strongholds - the Muslim belt of Rajouri and Poonch - where the party won two seats in the November-December 2008 assembly elections.

“We can spring a surprise,” PDP general secretary Daman Bhasin told IANS.

The PDP’s major campaign has been conducted by party patron and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who has been focussing on empowerment of all the regions and sub-regions of the state as part of the party’s agenda of self-rule.

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