J&K: Former Kathua MLA Charanjit Singh joins BJP
Jammu, Apr 6: Days ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, former independent MLA Charanjit Singh on Saturday joined the BJP in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The 68-year-old Singh, who had won the Kathua assembly seat in 2008, joined the saffron party in the presence of BJP National vice-president and in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Avinash Rai Khanna and former minister Rajiv Jasrotia.
In the 2014 assembly polls, Singh had secured third position, bagging 13,242 votes while Jasrotia and BSP candidate Som Raj Majotra bagged first and second positions by securing 35,670 and 28,864 votes, respectively.
"I am joining the BJP along with my supporters to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is taking every one along in the development of the country under the slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas," the former bureaucrat turned politician told reporters.
Singh said he would continue his work for the betterment of humanity, irrespective of religion, caste and creed. He is the second former lawmaker to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kathua after ex MLA Basholi Jagdish Raj Sapolia quit the Congress and rejoined the saffron party on February 9.
Sapolia had parted ways with the BJP ahead of assembly elections in 2014 after being denied a ticket from Basholi constituency which he had won in 2008. Kathua along with five other districts of Udhampur, Reasi, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar come under the Udhampur parliamentary constituency which is going to polls in the second phase on April 18.
Union minister Jitendra Singh is seeking re-election form the constituency and is locked in a 12-cornered contest with his main opponents including Congress candidate and scion of Dogra dynasty Vikramaditya Singh, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan foundr and former BJP minister Lal Singh and National Panthers Party chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh. Welcoming Charanjit Singh in the party fold, Khanna said he was confident of retaining both Udhampur and Jammu parliamentary seats.
Jammu is going to polls in the first phase of the five-phased elections in the state on April 11.
"The BJP will win both the seats with huge margin on our own strength, on the work done for the last five years and the policies of Modi government. We have worked a lot on the ground level," he said terming as opposition alliance as "fractured".
The National Conference has extended support to the Congress in Jammu, while the PDP has not fielded any candidate from the two seats to ensure that the votes do not get divided.
"All the three parties are fighting together in Jammu, while they are fighting against each other in Kashmir. They have a fractured coalition and are divided and therefore cannot face us," the BJP leader told reporters.
Asked about BJP's criticism of the PDP despite sharing power with it for over three years in the state before pulling out last year, he said, "We entered into the coalition with PDP to improve situation in the state, restore peace and ensure development of all the three regions but when we found that the coalition is not delivering on the ground, we pulled out."
"The way the PDP leader (former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti) is speaking after the fall of the government, it is not in the national interest. The voters will teach this party a lesson and along with other Kashmir centric parties will keep them away form power," he said.
Asked why the saffron party rakes up the issue of scrapping Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution during elections, Khanna said, "The article 35A is sub-judice and I will not talk on the issue".
On allegations that senior party leader L K Advani had been sidelined by Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, he said, "He (Advani) is a respected leader in the party and a guide for all of us. We respect him by heart and he was never ignored in the past nor will be ignored in future. Both Modi and Amit Shah hold him in high esteem." He said some senior leaders because of their age were not given a ticket but that does not mean they are not respected.