Rated in the perception game as the weakest party in Punjab before the assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now “confident” of coming up with a respectable performance.
On the basis of post-poll feedback, the BJP that contested 23 seats in the state is “sure” of retaining at least nine seats as compared to 12 in the 2012 assembly polls.
A senior poll manager of the party said despite heavy anti-incumbency and anger against the much-hyped demonetisation among traders, the saffron party managed to control the damage and these issues would not affect the party’s prospective.
Union minister and state BJP chief Vijay Sampla said the party would surprise all poll pundits by retaining most of the seats it won in 2012, despite all odds, especially in Dalit-dominated Doaba region. “Poll pundits and the media were unfair to the BJP in Punjab by claiming that we will be reduced to 2 or 3 seats. After the polling, I can say the BJP is going to win many seats as we have been able to retain our cadre in most of the constituencies,” said Sampla, who on Sunday attended marriages of party workers in Hoshiarpur, Phagwara and Amritsar after a hectic campaign of nearly two months.
He said the AAP ate into the anti-incumbency votes, which benefited the BJP in city segments where our main opponent was the Congress.
“A weakened Congress will ensure our victory on several seats,” he added. The BJP chief said Kejriwal’s flirting with Sikh radicals has also helped the BJP to retain its traditional vote bank of Hindus. “Those who vote for the BJP in Punjab are primarily Hindus and they don’t want the revival of Sikh extremists at any cost.
Kejriwal’s affinity with Sikh radicals created psychological pressure on BJP voters to stick to the party that is running a stable government at the Centre,” he said. Going by the postpoll feedback, the BJP is hoping to retain at least five out of seven constituencies it contested in Doaba.
However, the biggest worry for the party is the “feeling of hate” witnessed among people against its ally SAD.