From a minuscule presence earlier, the Punjabi community now finds itself in a politically important position at the Chandni Chowk and New Delhi Lok Sabha constituencies post delimitation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) feels it would gain from the changed contours of these constituencies as the Punjabi community is traditionally seen as the supporters of the saffron party.
Congress insiders, however, said the popularity of Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk and Ajay Maken from New Delhi, both union ministers in the present government, cuts across community lines. The fact that both the leaders are Punjabis might just help them in roping in Punjabi votes.
Before the delimitation process, babus called the shots in the New Delhi constituency but now the number of Punjabi (17 per cent) and Sikh (3 per cent) voters is larger than all government employees living in the area put together (16 per cent).
Similarly, while earlier the Muslim community held the key to the Chandni Chowk constituency, now their number (13 per cent) is lesser than the Hindu Punjabi (14 per cent) and Sikh (3 per cent) voters post delimitation.
“It is not that Maken or Sibal are Punjabi community leaders but the fact that they belong to the community doesn’t hurt,” said a Congress insider who didn't wish to be named.
Congress leader Ajay Maken said even when areas like Rajinder Nagar is believed to be BJP stronghold, the seat went to Congress in the Delhi assembly elections. Maken is from a refugee Punjabi family and believes the community would support him.
Sibal, on the other hand, believes that voters in his constituency would not elect a candidate based his or her community in mind.
“The Chandni Chowk constituency has been carved out of five parliamentary constituencies. It is the most cosmopolitan constituency with Muslim, Sikh and Christian voters and voters living in rural areas, slum clusters and middle class areas,” Sibal said.
“None of these caste equations are relevant because people would vote keeping in mind what kind of a Member of Parliament they want,” he said.