CHANDIGARH: The Modi factor is the only hope as the outsider tag is the main disadvantage for former diplomat-turned-politician and Union Minister of State for Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri, who has been fielded from Amritsar parliamentary constituency by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The fact that local leaders of the saffron party have hardly any presence on the ground and the leadership of alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is absent will be a key factor. Meanwhile, sitting MP Gurjeet Aujla of Congress is claiming that he is the son of the soil.
The Congress has an advantage in this Lok Sabha seat as eight out of the nine MLAs in the assembly segments are from the ruling party. These legislators had raised a banner of revolt against Aujla, a Jat-Sikh candidate, but the intervention of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has sorted the issue.
The only factor that can hamper the party’s prospects is the two-year anti-incumbency against the state government and the local MLAs.
Also Local Bodies Minister and fire-brand Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu whose assembly seat (Amritsar North) which falls in this constituency is yet to visit the area and campaign for Aujla.
Sidhu had been thrice MP from Amritsar when he was earlier in the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Also style of functioning of Punjab BJP president Shwait Malik who belongs to Amritsar and is Rajya Sabha MP is under question as he is unable to take party leaders and cadres together.
Even Tarun Chug, the national general secretary of the party, has not been active in the campaign.
Only senior party leader Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna, who lost to Aujla in the by-election and was a ticket aspirant this time and former state minister Anil Joshi have a hold on the ground.
Bikram Singh Majithia former state minister and brother-in-law of Sukhbir Singh Badal who represents Majitha assembly constituency and has influence over other assembly seats of this constituency is busy campaigning for his sister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda.
In his rallies, Puri projects himself as a powerful minister who if elected will bring big projects to the area.
He also evokes the 1984 Sikh riots and how the Modi government ensured conviction for Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the riots cases. Thus in the present circumstances, the saffron party’s only hope is the Modi factor, say political observers.