LS Elections: Will Punjab See a Triangular Contest in the Polls?

Speaking about the AAP, VIkas Vasudeva said that the party was facing problems and was on its way down in Punjab. 

3 min read

As the six-week long Lok Sabha election draws to a close, attention turns to Punjab this weekend, where polling will take place for the state's 13 seats. The BJP- Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alliance is looking to regain lost ground from the Congress , while the Aam Aadmi Party is in the fight for survival.

Rajeev Bhaskar of Punjab Tribune and Vikas Vasudeva of The Hindu joined BloombergQuint's Kaushik Vaidya to discuss the election in Punjab.

Bhaskar said that only one or two seats of the state such as Sangrur would see a triangular contest similar to the ones in 2014 and 2017, while in the others, the Congress and the BJP-Akali alliance would be at loggerheads, because AAP had already lost steam.

Vasudeva said that Captain Amarinder Singh had snatched the narrative about Balakot away from the BJP, and that it was not working in favour of the party in Punjab. The impact of the Balakot strikes was not as big a poll issue as the BJP was making it out to be, Vasudeva said. The narrative has been changed to the 1984 Sikh riots, he added.

On whether Sam Pitroda's comment on the 1984 Sikh riots would hurt the Congress, Bhaskar said he did not feel it would adversely affect the Congress, in part because the issue died down when Rahul Gandhi condemned Pitroda's remarks and said he should be ashamed.

Bhaskar said as as per ground reports, SAD's Harsimrat Kaur Badal is facing a bitter battle in Bathinda, where she is up against Congress' Amrinder Singh Raja Warring. Bhaskar added that Raja Warring appears to have an edge at this point over her. In Ferozepur, SAD’s Sukhbir Badal has an edge, he said.

Speaking about Amritsar and Gurdaspur, Vasudeva said that while they have traditionally been Congress bastions and the party still has an edge in Amritsar, Gurdaspur, where Sunny Deol is the BJP candidate, would see a tough fight.

Speaking about the AAP's condition in Punjab, Vasudeva said that while the party was certainly facing problems and was on its way down. Even people in the state are not talking about AAP with enthusiasm, Vasudeva said. However, he added that the party was likely to win see a win in Punjab President Bhagwant Mann's seat of Sangrur. This is one seat that they may be able to clinch, he said.

No one this time is speaking about the drug issue in Punjab, as opposed to before, when drugs was a big poll issue, Vasudeva said. He added that the people on the ground feel that the government has changed but nothing has changed in the drug situation. The Congress is also not bringing up the issue because that would allow the Opposition to attack them on the same, he said.

Speaking about the key issues for voters in the polls, Bhaskar said as far as BJP and SAD were concerned, both parties have tried to rake up the 1984 riots. As far as Congress is concerned, the party is trying to raise the issues of incidents of ‘sacrilege’ in Bargari and the Doaba region, which was hampering the SAD, Bhaskar said.

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