February 19, 2021 4:17:29 am
The local bodies poll results seem to have adversely affected the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prospects in next year’s Punjab Assembly elections. With the saffron party failing to make a mark in urban areas, which are its traditional strongholds, its claims of forming the government in 2022 have started sounding hollow.
The drubbing received by the BJP in its traditional strongholds is being ascribed to the anger against the Centre’s farm laws and the negative effect it has had on voters cutting across social strata. However, BJP leaders say the coercive methods adopted by the Congress government in the state and the hate campaign orchestrated against party leaders is the cause of the below par poll results.
It is learnt that the state core committee of the party will now meet to analyse the civic poll results and to chart the course ahead with Assembly polls in mind. In the run up to the local bodies polls, there had been several statements from top BJP leaders asserting that the party will form government in Punjab in 2022 .
The rout suffered by the BJP has been particularly galling in Pathankot, which is the home turf of the state president Ashwani Sharma. The saving grace for the party was the town of Sujanpur, represented by a BJP MLA, where the party did well and gave a tough fight to the Congress. In Pathankot, BJP won only 11 of 50 seats and in Hoshiarpur, the Lok Sabha constituency of sitting Union Minister of State Som Parkash, it won just three of 50 seats.
These urban pockets have always been the preserve of the BJP. Even when the party has been in opposition in the state, these boroughs always returned decent results for the saffron party.
The state party leadership has put up a brave face and said that the BJP stood up to the strong arm tactics of the Congress and despite being bullied and threatened the party candidates did not cow down.
In a statement issued after the polls results were announced, Sharma said that the Congress won because of blatant misuse of the election machinery and reckless violence against BJP workers even as the Punjab Police remained a mute spectator. He promised that BJP would continue to fight the Congress’s “mafia raj” and that it would highlight the divisive politics being practiced by the state government.
BJP central leadership has, meanwhile, dismissed the assumption that the poor showing in civic body polls would harm the prospects of BJP in 2022 assembly elections.
Speaking to The Indian Express, party national general secretary Tarun Chugh said that these polls were not a parameter to judge the results of other elections. “In 2013, our party swept the local body polls at several places including Amritsar, where the Congress failed to win even a single seat. But look what happened in the 2014 general elections. Arun Jaitley lost from Amritsar. So all these elections have their separate barometers on which they are to be judged,” said Chugh.
Asserting that BJP was still in the fight, Chugh said that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh would be challenged over his unfulfilled poll promises of 2017 and he would fail on that account alone.
“The win of Congress in these local bodies polls is due to ‘dandacracy’, not democracy. Out core voter base is intact and a befitting reply will be given to the Congress in 2022 elections,” he said.
Senior BJP leaders say that there will not be any change in the state leadership on account of the poll results. “No step will be taken as of now to change the state leadership. Such things send a negative signal to the cadre. We will introspect in core committee meeting and then decide the next course of action,” a leader said.
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