Polling is in progress at a brisk note since Thursday morning in all the four districts of Jammu, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch.
Senior Congress leader and Union Minister of Health Ghulam Nabi Azad declined to comment on the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's personal life, when asked about the latter's declaration of marriage with a hitherto unknown woman, but appeared confident about his party’s return to power at the Centre in the current Lok Sabha elections.
After casting his vote at Jogigate polling station set up at Delhi Public School here on Thursday, Mr Azad, unlike his party colleague Digvijay Singh, told the media that Mr Modi's disclosure was a “personal matter between the husband and the wife”. “I won't comment on it”, he asserted before departing for a heavy campaigning schedule in his home district of Doda.
Polling is scheduled to be held in Udhampur-Doda constituency in the second phase in Jammu and Kashmir on April 17. Mr Azad is in a tough electoral battle in Udhampur-Doda with BJP's Dr Jitendra Singh.
Asked about reports of a “Modi wave” in Jammu and many parts of the country, Mr Azad quipped: “This Modi wave is limited to TV. He has dominated the TV but the Congress is firmly placed on the ground”. He added, ”We have seen them in the last 35 years. This Mandir and Article 370 rhetoric will only prove counterproductive for them as it's only the result of their frustration. We have had UPA in 2004 and 2009 and there's no doubt we are going to have UPA-14”, Mr Azad said.
Earlier, mediapersons watched an interesting situation when Mr Azad asked for his ballot but the Presiding Officer insisted on producing proof of the voter's identity. He made clear to Mr Azad that he knew him by face but needed to be sure of his being a registered voter at Jogigate-F polling station. As Mr Azad was not carrying his photo identity card or the Electors Photo Identity Card, Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma’s polling agents gave a verbal undertaking in Mr Azad's favour. None of the candidates' agents offered objection and Mr Azad exercised his franchise.
There are 19 candidates in the fray in Jammu, a constituency of 18.48 lakh voters, which has 2,200 polling stations. 80 polling stations have been declared critical.
The real battle appears to be between BJP's Jugal Kishore Sharma and Congress party's Madan Lal Sharma who is seeking mandate for his third consecutive term. Polling is in progress at a brisk note since morning in all the four districts of Jammu, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch.