As the saffron euphoria captures the nation, Amritsar is one place where the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as Shiomani Akali Dal (SAD) are facing a major embarrassment, with senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley getting knocked down by his Congress rival Capt Amarinder Singh by a margin of over 1 lakh votes.
Choosing Amritsar in Punjab to make his electoral debut, Jaitley had landed in the holy city on March 18, with hopes of having a cake walk. However, the electoral scenario changed as soon as the Congress fielded Amarinder against him.
Dubbed as one of the toughest contests in the state, the battle in Amritsar saw the Jaitley-Amarinder slugfest touching a new low during the campaign.
However, the election result proved the predictions of a close contest wrong with Amarinder winning the seat with an impressive margin.
A close look at the results indicated that the people of Amritsar constituency showed hardly any trust in the AkaliBJP combine this time.
Out of the total nine assembly constituencies, Jaitley managed to secure lead in only two--the rural segments of Majitha and Raja Sansi. As f ar as urban segments were concerned, the BJP let down its big leader in a major way.
Jaitley got a severe drubbing in all the five urban constituencies. In Amritsar (East), represented by Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, he trailed by 32,000 votes while in Amritsar (North), local bodies ministerAnil Joshi’s constituency, he lost by 19,000 votes.
Even in CPS Inderbir Singh Bolaria’s constituency, Amritsar (South), Jaitley lost by 22,000 votes.
From Amritsar (Central) and Amritsar (West), the segments represented by Congress MLAs, Jaitley trailed by 18,000 and 36,000 votes respectively.
It was such a big embarrassment for the BJP leadership that Anil Joshi sent in his resignation even before the counting was completed in Amritsar, taking “moral responsibility” for the defeat.
Though revenue Minister Bikram Majithia was seen with Jaitley throughout the election, the results failed to bring any relief for the BJP nominee.
The SAD-BJP leaders, who predicted a big win for Jaitley in the constituency, finally saw the BJP stalwart losing the polls comprehensively.
The issues such as imposition of property tax in the state, drug menace, the Sidhu factor and the rift in some sections of the SAD and BJP contributed to the big defeat in battleground Amritsar.
As far as Amarinder is concerned, his charisma and the way he lashed out at the local leadership of the SAD-BJP alliance, brought rich dividends for him in the contest fought in the backdrop of a strong antiincumbency against the state government.