Though all parties have started introspection exercises as to how and why they lost the race to the Punjab Assembly, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) feels that this was a fresh start for them in the state. They argued that prior to this, the saffron party was in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and also with the farmers’ agitation, they could hardly do any political activity in Punjab for almost 18 months this time.
While in alliance with SAD, BJP would contest only on 23 seats and in 2017, of the 23 seats, they could win three with a vote share of 5.39%, which was the party’s worst since 1992.
In 2022, BJP contested on 73 seats and could win only two — Pathankot and Mukerian – but the vote share increased to 6.6%. The two candidates who won were BJP state president Ashwani Sharma, who defeated Congress’s Amit Vij in Pathankot by a margin of 7,759 votes and Jangi Lal Mahajan, who defeated AAP’s Gurdhian Singh Multani by securing 2,511 more votes.
Of the 73 seats that the BJP contested this year, on 54 seats, the party lost its security deposits while its alliance partner Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) contested on 28 seats and only Capt Amarinder Singh could save his security deposit. SAD(Sanyukt) of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa contested on 15 seats and only Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who contested from Lehragaga, could save his security deposit. Thus, the alliance lost security deposits on 95 seats out of 117 seats.
However, BJP is not much disappointed with its performance in the state. Anil Sarin, chief spokesperson of BJP in Punjab, said, “For 18 months, the party was not allowed to do any political activity in Punjab by AAP, Congress and SAD members in name of farmers. We got only 45 days to campaign in Punjab after the agitation ended. Also, earlier, we used to contest in alliance with SAD, which is the oldest regional party in the state, and their votes also used to contribute to our seats. However, this time, it is solely our performance and so this is just a beginning for us in Punjab.”
While the ruling Congress’s vote share fell by 15.52%, SAD’s individual vote share fell by 6.86%. BJP is the only party whose vote share increased by 1.21%, Sarin said, adding that they are optimistic of a better performance next time.
Dinesh Kumar, organisational secretary of BJP in Punjab, said, “Our next focus is the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and I strongly believe that in 2024 it will be BJP versus AAP. Hope you all remember Delhi’s vidhan sabha results when AAP won 67 out of 70 seats in 2015 polls but in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, they could not win even a single seat from Delhi and all the seven seats went to BJP. So our immediate focus is 2024 Lok Sabha elections and the 13 seats of Punjab will reflect the change.”
Kumar added that the BJP will spread awareness about the various schemes launched by the Centre and will also ask the people to avail of its benfits.