The BJP’s aggressive campaign in the assembly elections focusing on surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir appears to have helped the party win votes in ex-servicemen-dominated pockets in Uttarakhand but a different story unfolded in Punjab.
It was smooth sailing for BJP candidates in constituencies known to have a sizeable veteran vote in the hill state but the anti-incumbency wave favoured the Congress in Punjab.
The SAD-BJP combine candidates failed to cash in on the success of the targeted operations in a state that has a strong military tradition.
Take the case of Uttarakhand where defence minister Manohar Parrikar was among the battery of top leaders who campaigned, urging the voters to give a clear mandate to BJP for a strong and stable government in the state. Parrikar said during campaigning that the state enjoyed a special relationship with the military as its representation in the armed forces was among the highest in the country.
There are a large number of veteran voters in several of Uttarakhand’s constituencies including Almora, Dehradun Cantt, Rudraprayag, Pauri, Bageshwar and Champawat. BJP candidates defeated their nearest rivals by comfortable margins in all these constituencies where thousands of ex-servicemen are registered with the local Zila Sainik Boards.
The BJP leaders performed equally well in other areas where veterans can influence poll outcomes such as Nainital, Lansdowne and Hardwar.
The trend, however, was different in Punjab where the Congress performed exceptionally well across the state, including ex-service boroughs.
The SAD-BJP combine candidates failed to win seats in areas where the veteran vote could have helped them. The Congress candidates were the clear winners in all five Amritsar constituencies, all four Jalandhar constituencies, SAS Nagar, Gurdaspur and Pathankot where a sizeable number of ex-servicemen live.