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As campaign ends, Udhampur awaits a battle of ballots among 4 Rajputs

Press Trust of India  |  Jammu 

A high-decibel campaign that Lok Sabha seat witnessed despite killings of a and his security guard in a terror strike last week in Kishtwar, ended Tuesday evening, leaving the constituency to await a battle of ballots among four key contenders -- all Rajputs.

The parliamentary constituency mostly comprising mountainous areas and sharing borders with and several neighbouring states, goes to polls on April 18 along with 96 other constituencies across 13 states in the second phase of elections.

The April 18 voting, slated for over 16.85 lakh electorates of the constituency spread over 17 assembly segments across six districts -- Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi, and -- will decide the fate of 12 candidates.

Prominent among the contestants include four Rajputs: Union seeking reelection on a BJP ticket, Dogra dynasty scion Vikramaditya Singh fighting as a candidate, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan founder and

The National Conference has extended support to the on this seat, while the PDP has fielded no candidate to keep "secular votes" undivided.

and his PSO were killed by a terrorist in district hospital premises on April 9, prompting authorities to impose curfew in the town.

As a precautionary measure, the communally sensitive town has been kept under strict vigil under the curfew and suspended for a week since the killings, which had followed the gruesome murders of a and his brother last November.

Barring the town which missed all pre-poll political activities due to the sensitive security situations following the twin killings, the rest of the constituency saw intense campaigning, marked by dozens of rallies, roadshows and public meetings till Tuesday evening.

The high points of campaigning included a DSS' road show in Kathua, a massive NPP rally in and a long, disappointing wait by supporters in another rally in to hear Punjab Chief who missed it due to some unavoidable reasons.

campaigners from the BJP included Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and Ram Madhav, who addressed a host of rallies to spur party candidate Jitendra Singh's poll fortunes.

To improve the Union minister's winnability, also pitched in cricketer-turned- and stand-up Raju Srivastava, who undertook door -to-door and street-corner canvassing, joining the BJP over-arching poll campaign machinery, which managed to put up an impressive show of over 100 rallies.

for Congress candidate included his father and former Sadre-e-Riyasat Karan Singh, his and party and former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides several National Conference leaders.

To prop up the Dogra scion's winnability, Azad undertook a whirlwind tour of comprising Doda, and Ramban and sought to woo the sizable Gujjar population, which happen to be Muslims, to for He, in return, promised the community exclusive privileges like free medical treatment, if is voted to power in the Centre.

"The campaigning in the constituency ended peacefully," said a

He said as many as 2,710 polling stations have been set up across the constituency, which has a total 16,85,779 registered voters including 8,76,319 men, 7,89,105 women, 20,312 service voters (20,052 men and 260 women) besides 43 transgender electors.

The talking points during electioneering by the two key parties included issues of national security, the special status of state under Article 370, terrorism, surgical and air strikes across the border and Congress' promise to dilute Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) amid bitter allegations and counter-allegations by the two sides.

The electioneering saw accusing of compromising the national security. He also attacked the NC and PDP for "furthering" their dynastic in the state.

The Congress hit back at Modi, accusing the NDA government of having a "poor record" in dealing with terrorism and national security.

The Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency happened to be the till 1996, when BJP's Chaman Lal Gupta, a former Union minister, managed to win it and retain it in 1998 and 1999 elections. He, however, lost it in 2004 to of the Congress, who retained it 2009 as well.

Chaudhary Lal Singh, however, was denied ticket by the Congress in 2004 after which he joined the BJP and subsequently became a minister the state

He founded the DSS last year, a few months after quitting the with another for facing flak for taking part in a rally in support of an accused in the rape and murder of a minor girl in district.

Lal Singh is also fighting elections from Jammu, making the fray for the two seats tough for the contestants.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 16 2019. 20:55 IST