BJP leader Arun Jaitley faces a tough electoral battle in his maiden bid to enter Lok Sabha from Amritsar but is unfazed by his 'reluctant' heavyweight opponent Capt Amarinder Singh as he claims the groundswell against Congress 'adds to my confidence'.
He dismisses criticism of his being an "outsider" saying Amritsar is one of the most hospitable cities in India and an Amritsari who goes to Delhi for work cannot be given that tag.
He wants to be the powerful voice of the holy city in Delhi.
Jaitley also rejects any anti-incumbency against him in view of the complaints against his party colleague and sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is out of the contest this time due to problems with ally Akali Dal.
Jaitley has some new plans for Amritsar, which has links to his grandmother, like opening of the Indo-Pak border trade, converting Amritsar as a tourism hub and Punjab as a whole as an educational and industrial centre.
Amritsar is looking for a powerful voice at the Centre, so it can get its dues. It is with that hope people look at me. And it is the factor singularly which gives me an advantage, he claims.
The 61-year-old eminent lawyer from Delhi says he is enjoying the electoral battle because he is in the driver's seat this time even though he is not new to elections.
To field a reluctant man is never a safe political strategy, he told PTI in an interview, rejecting any suggestion that he may not have bargained for a tough fight that the Amritsar battle has turned out to be.
"Amarinder belongs to a party which has committed large number of improprieties and atrocities against the Sikhs. He can't distance himself from that.
"Secondly, Amritsar is a city where under BJP and Akalis and Punjab as a state social harmony has been the best and therefore, this is the state where there is no religious divide, neither do we try and create one," Jaitley added.
He was replying to a question whether the fact that the majority of 64% voters in Amritsar were Sikhs and the fact that Amarinder had protested against Operation Bluestar and quit his Lok Sabha seat and the Congress party were formidable factors against him.
Perceived to be carrying the baggage of Sidhu's "non-performance" and his absence from the constituency, the senior BJP leader who shares a good equation with the former cricketer, said it was not true.
First of all, I don't think there is a personal anti-incumbency against him. Secondly, if there is an anti-incumbency, it is against the UPA. And there is a huge anti-incumbency against the UPA, he said.
He listed out price rise, the LPG prices, plight of farmers and slowdown in the economy as being responsible for a huge anti-incumbency along with corruption.
Congress also has a problem of leaderlessness. Now all this is creating an anti-incumbency. Corruption has got down the image of this government. There is a groundswell against the Congress and the people are looking for a change, he added.