Until a month ago, it was assumed that the Udhampur constituency would be a cakewalk for the BJP. But with controversial leader Choudhary Lal Singh returning to the Congress and being given a ticket, the game has changed.

Choudhary Lal Singh campaigning. Photo: X/@chlalsinghinc

By Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: Over 10 years after he left Congress, the return of Choudhary Lal Singh, a controversial and influential politician from the Dogra heartland of Jammu, to the grand old party and his subsequent nomination as the party’s candidate for the geographically extensive Udhampur parliamentary segment has changed electoral dynamics in the constituency and turned it into one of the most interesting electoral battles of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The controversial Lal Singh is locked in a neck-and-neck contest with Jitendra Singh, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), on the seat which also has a substantial Muslim population.

Fierce contest

Until a month ago, it was assumed that the Udhampur constituency would be a cakewalk for the BJP, given that its principal opponent in the Jammu region, the Congress, had become weak after suffering repeated electoral setbacks from 2014 onwards and several leaders deserted the party and joined the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP).

However, things have changed in the segment after Lal Singh, a three-time MLA and two-time MP, returned to the Congress after a gap of nearly one decade. Singh had quit the party in 2014 after he was denied a ticket in the Lok Sabha polls, and then was replaced with Ghulam Nabi Azad who ended up losing at the hands of Jitendra Singh by a margin of 60,000 votes.

In the past four weeks, Lal Singh’s aggressive style of campaigning is giving jitters to the BJP, which has maintained its grip on the segment since 2014.

This story was originally published in thewire.in. Read the full story here.