The electorate of Punjab would do well to expect a lot of heat on polling day, Tuesday, with perhaps the weather being the only cooling factor.
The 2007 Assembly elections in the state are expected to be a close fight between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party. Realising it, both parties have spared no effort to run the other down in the electioneering.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has tried to inject aggression in his electioneering with his claim that Punjab is on the road to development and economic resurgence under the Congress government. This has, the Congress says, neutralised the religious agenda of the Akali Dal.
Party leaders have tried to remind the rural voters, including the farmers, that the present government had procured all 10 harvests. The complaint during the Akali regime was that disposing off farm produce was an ordeal. Congress has even claimed credit for the property price rise in the past few years “due to the Captain's progressive policies”.
In Malwa, which returns no less than 60 MLAs, the Congress claims to have brought prosperity to rural homes with Bt cotton. The Congress has also been high-pitched in highlighting corruption cases against SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and his family, while calling the Akali Dal a “private limited company of the Badals”.
The Shiromani Akali Dal's campaigning has been no less strident. The party has tried to project the Congress regime as a politics of vendetta, revenge and repression. Leaders of the SAD said false criminal cases have been slapped not only against opposition leaders but also the Captain’s detractors in the party.
Both parties, as a departure from the past, relied heavily on the electronic and print media to carry their high-decibel campaign in rural areas too.
The SAD has harped a lot on the chief minister’s inaccessibility. It has been a tense campaign and the voters get to have a say on it at the polling booth on Tuesday.