Captain likely to win with a small margin, Bhagwant Mann rides AAP wave in Dhuri
Aam Aadmi Party is selling the Delhi model of governance of Arvind Kejriwal while Congress has banked on Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi to impress voters. Chief Minister Charanjeet Singh Channi has been praised for reducing the power and water bills in his 111 days of rule. Captain Amarinder Singh, BJP and SAD (Sanyukt) have harped on the “double engine” of NDA ruling Punjab and the Centre as the panacea for all ills plaguing the state. SAD ran a low-key, focused campaign in these elections.
A look at some of the seats in various districts.
While Captain Amarinder Singh is contesting from his pocket borough Patiala Urban, his Punjab Lok Congress is on a weak wicket on most seats in this district. Locals say even Captain will just manage to scrape through. AAP has fielded Ajitpal Singh Kohli against the ex-chief minister. There is a lot of disenchantment with Captain in the state but being the local royal, he is likely to win this seat.
The district has nine Assembly seats and Aam Aadmi Party is in a strong position in six of these, according to locals. PLC has fielded Patiala mayor Sanjeev Sharma from Patiala Rural seat. He is pitted against Dr Balbir Singh (AAP). In Rajpura constituency, sitting Congress MLA Hardial Singh Kamboj is a popular figure but AAP candidate Neena Mittal is giving him a tough fight. Interestingly, some voters said fielding a male candidate would have further boosted AAP’s chances here.
In Samana seat, there is resentment against local SAD leaders. The voters are happy with Channi for reducing their electricity and water bills but rue that there are no jobs in the state.
In Sangrur district, AAP chief minister candidate and local MP Bhagwant Mann is contesting from Dhuri seat. People complain that Mann does not visit this Assembly seat and is mainly focused on developing Sangrur. Congress candidate and sitting MLA Dalvir Singh Goldy and his wife are popular as the former student leader due to their work and accessibility. Mann’s graph has gone up after he was declared the CM candidate and is likely to win. AAP has good prospects in this district.
In Sangrur Assembly constituency, Congress has fielded Vijay Inder Singla who is a strong candidate. However, BJP poached Arvind Khanna from Congress and he is in the fray against Singla. The division of Congress support between Singla and Khanna may benefit AAP candidate Narinder Kaur Bharaj.
Though Mann is the CM face, AAP posters and flags display Arvind Kejriwal’s photo and the Jhaadu symbol of the party.
In Jalandhar district, Shiromani Akali Dal is strong in the Jalandhar Cantt seat where Congress has fielded former hockey player and minister Pargat Singh. SAD had declared Jagbir Brar as its candidate some months back and he has been reaching out to the people mainly through door-to-door campaigning in which he promises to improve the civic facilities.
BJP candidate from Jalandhar Central Manoranjan Kalia is a veteran who has won the seat thrice. However, he lost in 2017 elections. During his election rally in Jalandhar on February 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Kalia would have become Deputy Chief Minister in the SAD-BJP government but the Akalis did not agree to give the post to his party.
Congress candidates are strong in Jalandhar West and Jalandhar North. Aam Aadmi Party does not appear to have much traction in this district. Several people expressed unhappiness over AAP fielding money bags in this district.
Ravidassias are present in big numbers in this district and their votes can make a difference in the outcome.
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