For Chandigarh candidates, the road to the Lok Sabha passes through 13 colonies and 22 villages falling in the Union Territory, having an electorate of nearly 3.14 lakh voters out of the total 6 lakh.
It is the support of this electoral base that would prove decisive in differentiating winners from the losers.
The four major contenders of the lone parliamentary seat are pulling out all stops to woo the said section of society. However, after the demolition of the biggest aong them, Colony No. 5 last year, the vote bank has been cut short by nearly 12,000 votes.
All three contenders, including Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal, Aam Aadmi Party’s Gul Panag, and BSP candidate Jannat Jahan are focusing only on rural vote, while BJP candidate Kirron Kher has chalked out an extensive plan for the said vote bank.
With only 3,000 inhabitants of the now demolished Colony No 5 being provided houses, the candidates would find themselves short of 12,000 votes, as they have shifted to nearby villages of SAS Nagar, barring them from any right to exercise their franchise.
Out of the over 5 lakh registered voters in the city during the 2009Lok Sabha, the slum colonies had around 1.6 lakh voters, city sectors had 2.8 lakh, and villages comprised around 80,000 voters.
The voting percentage from villages and colonies was recorded at over 65% in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which was the highest in past two decades. Compared to that, the sectors witnessed nearly 60% voting.
Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal had won the Chandigarh seat in 1991, 1999, 2004 and 2009. As per the data, the party had received 35% votes in 1991 that increased to 47% in 1999, and 52% in 2004. The polling percentage in favour of Congress was 47% in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
During the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, vote share of the Congress from sectors was 46.54%, while from the colonies - considered a Congress stronghold-was a commendable 63%. In the villages, it stood at 52%.
In the recent panchayat elections also, out of 12 panchayats, seven Congress-backed candidates were elected sarpanches. During the panchayat polls in 2008, the tally of Congress supporters was nine while the BJP had three elected sarpanches.
City mayor Harphool Chander Kalyan said, “The Congress has a stronghold in the rural and slum areas of the city, which constitutes a large number of voters. The voters in rural and slum population of Chandigarh always play a vital role in deciding the fate of candidates in the fray for city’s parliamentary constituency.”
BSP candidate Jannat Jahan said, “This time, villages and colonies will give befitting reply to Congress as no development has been done in the past several years.”