Punjab will witness a direct contest between the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress at all the 13 Lok Sabha seats unlike the 2014 general elections when the votes got divided, state BJP chief Shwait Malik has predicted.
“This time, there is no third factor in Punjab as was seen in 2014 when Aam Admi Party (AAP) won four seats. AAP is almost finished in the state while the Punjab Democratic Alliance is a group of disgruntled people and hence this time people have clarity in their mind. So we will be having a direct contest on all the 13 seats,” Malik told The Indian Express.
The PDA comprises Punjab Ekta Party (PEP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), Navan Punjab, CPI and the Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI).
Malik said it was advantage BJP-SAD alliance in Punjab as the Congress government has failed to deliver in two years of its rule.
“Based on the performance of the Congress in the last two years, we comfortably win all the seats. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh hardly moves out of his fort. He is not even seen attending his office. He is not accessible, and moreover Congress did not deliver what they promised. Hence we have an advantage,” he said, while thanking the “Congress CM for making our path easy”.
Earlier, responding to a similar charge by Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal, Amarinder had said that he had “a government to run” and the people of Punjab “do not want to see me gallivanting all over the state for 45 days. They want me to spend all this time constructively, to deliver on our promises”.
As per a pact between them, the Akali Dal is contesting 10 Lok Sabha seats with BJP fielding candidates in three constituencies
BJP had won all the three seats it contested in 2004 general elections securing a vote share of 10.48%.
The vote share suffered a marginal drop at 10.06% in 2009 when the BJP was reduced to just one seat. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP improved its tally to two seats – Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur – but the vote share further dipped to 8.70%.
Malik is confident that the party’s vote share won’t drop any further.
“We will not be having any dip in vote share now, as masses are more connected to us,” he said while adding that in 2014, no party had a clear majority in Punjab.
“The AAP had made inroads that year. Even Congress could win only three seats in 2014. This time, however, Modi wave is at an all time high and hence we are going to make an all time high record”.
The BJP leader said that while Congress came to power in 2017 riding on false promises, the drug trade and the sand mafia have prospered in its regime. He conceded that the drug and sand mafia existed during the 10 years of SAD-BJP rule but added that “such mafia exist worldwide and need to be dealt with a proper policy”.
Advocating the policies of the NDA government, he said it gave projects worth Rs 16,800 crore to Punjab while the previous UPA government led by Manmohan Singh had allotted projects worth only Rs 30,000 crore.
“We got 1984 anti-Sikh riots culprits punished, got work on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor started, and even got Rs 20 crore sanctioned for the upkeep of the Jallianwala Bagh. The list is huge”.
The party is yet to name candidates for the three seats – Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur – that it is contesting. Malik said applicants’ names have been sent to party central leadership to take the final call.