Nagrota: National Conference is trying hard to make inroads into the BJP stronghold of Nagrota Assembly constituency in Jammu and Kashmir as it has fielded its stalwart leader Devender Singh Rana from the seat.
Rana rose to the echelons of power after he became the Media Advisor to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. He later served as the Political Advisor to the Chief Minister (a Minister of State rank) and was then elected to the Upper House of the state Assembly.
Though BJP is yet to announce its candidate for the seat, sailing will not be easy for Rana as Nagrota has been a BJP stronghold in the past two Assembly elections of 2002 and 2008.
The seat was left vacant after the sitting BJP MLA Jugal Kishore Sharma was elected to the Lok Sabha.
In 2002 Assembly elections, BJP's candidate from the seat Jugal Kishore had defeated NC candidate Ajatshatru Singh with a margin of only 67 votes. Jugal Kishore was the lone BJP MLA who was elected to the state Assembly in 2002.
The margin increased in the next Assembly elections in 2008, when Jugal Kishore defeated NC's Ajatshatru Singh with a margin of 1,620 votes.
However, Rana, who is also the Provincial President of National Conference, is hopeful to turn the tide in favour of his party this time.
Touring far-off areas of the constituency, Rana has been trying to woo voters by telling them about "development and good governance carried out by Omar Abdullah government".
Rana has also been promising the voters to convert Nagrota into a "Nava Jammu" (like Jammu).
"We have to strive for consolidating peace, continuing development and assuaging political and economic aspirations of the people who have been grappling with multitude of problems over the years," Rana said at a gathering in Nagrota today.
"Holding of panchayat elections after 33 years demonstrated his (Omar's) deep urge for strengthening democracy at the grassroot level and involve the rural people in the decision-making process. The revolutionary legislations like Right to Information and Public Services Guarantee Acts, which are aimed at empowering the people and making the administration responsive were brought in by the Omar-led government," he said.
"The Omar-led government has succeeded in steering the
state from uncertainty to stability by heralding peace and giving a new dimension to development," he said.
"In our odyssey of development, Nagrota constituency has also benefited in terms of development and progress during the past six years. Developmental projects have been taken up in road, power, drinking water and rural development sectors.
"The carving out of new administrative units has opened up window of opportunity for expansion, development and fulfilment of aspirations on account of decision-making," he said.
BJP, meanwhile, said it is "waiting" to declare a strong candidate for the constituency who can take forward the work done by the party in the area.
"As the polling in Nagrota will take place in the last phase, we will give the constituency one of the best candidates who can take forward the developmental agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and take the legacy of two-time party MLA forward," BJP state spokesman Balbir Ram Rattan said.
Nagrota assembly constituency will go to polls in the fifth and last phase of election on December 20.