Apr 21 2014 | 10:00 AM

Jaitley Faces Tough Battle In Amritsar Against Singh, Seeks Help Of Delhi’s Glitterati And Modi

Who: TheCitizen | What: Politics
Where: New Delhi | WHEN: April 21st, 2014 , 10:00AM
THE CITIZEN BUREAU Sun Apr 20, 2014

NEW DELHI: Former chief minister and Congress candidate Amarinder Singh is giving a tough battle to BJP’s Arun Jaitley who is now waiting for his party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to address a public rally in this Lok Sabha constituency next week to possibly help turn the tide. However, Singh who is clearly a favourite with the majority Sikh population in this constituency is confident that Modi’s appeal, if at all, will not cross the urban areas and he will retain his support base and the current edge in the rural parts of the constituency.

There are two visible differences in the broad thrust of the campaign of both these leaders. Jaitley is focusing on the central arguments of Congress failure, while Singh has moved away from this altogether to address local issues such as the phenomenal house tax introduced by the Akali Dal across Punjab, drug issues and the local drug mafia. So while Jaitley speaks of the Congress failure to police the borders and thereby allow the influx of drugs, Singh focuses on the local involvement with many of his targets known to the voters of Punjab as established criminals. Besides the locals detect confusion in Jaitley’s approach as while he blames the Congress he insists he has no words of censure for the Border Security Force that is in charge of border security making the harangue non-credible.


Secondly, Singh is relying on local faces and local support to mobilise the vote in his favour. Jaitley has brought in Delhi’s big faces to address press conferences and make their presence felt in his support in Amritsar. The list includes proprietors and editors like Shobna Bharatiya, Kuldip Nayar and even Prannoy Roy who of course claimed to have been visiting as a professional, as well as the well known heart surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan. Local sources insisted that these visits had failed to have an impact locally.

There is some worry, despite the apparent bravado, in the Singh camp about the impact of the Modi rally. Modi will also be visiting Bhatinda that is witnessing a battle between Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur and his nephew Manpreet Singh Badal, president of the Peoples Party of Punjab. Although Harsimrat Kaur who is also the sitting MP currently has an edge in this Lok Sabha constituency, the Akali Dal is not willing to take a chance and wants a Modi rally to tie up the floating votes before polling day.

Interestingly for the Akali Dal, Amritsar has assumed the same importance as Bhatinda, not because of Jaitley but because of Amarinder Singh who is well regarded in the constituency and clearly popular. Big money is being spent, with Amarinder Singh clearly not in the same league as his opponent. However, there is an animosity amongst the conservative hard core religious Sikhs of this constituency against the BJP and the RSS, and this is working to the advantage of the Captain at the moment. More so, as there is no candidate from the Panth, with Jaitley unable to wean this vote till date.

Punjab is not reporting a ‘Modi wave’ like several other states, with both Congress and Aam Aadmi parties giving a good fight in several constituencies to the BJP and Akali Dal. Sufficient to worry the ruling Akali Dal to urge Narendra Modi to draw up a more extensive tour schedule for Punjab.

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