It is no wonder that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is depending heavily on BJP for a win.
Last time, the junior partner of the ruling alliance had played a significant role, winning 19 of 23 seats, virtually sweeping the urban areas. It tilted the scales when the SAD and Congress were neck and neck with 48 and 44 seats.But the story might be a tad different this time.
The BJP today appears to be grappling with factionalism and anti-incumbency among its urban support base. It has no prominent face with a statewide appeal. A last-minute reshuffle to change three ministers and a chief parliamentary secretary dented the party’s image further. And to top of it all, its own leaders have levelled allegations of corruption against each other.
Social scientist Dr Sucha Singh Gill said the SAD-BJP marriage had worked as “they consolidated their respective vote banks – Hindus traders for BJP and Sikh peasantry by SAD”.
“But when the government fails to meet the aspirations of BJP supporters, it tilts the balance in favor of the Congress,” said Gill.
The BJP leaders have been griping about the discrimination in fund distribution in favor of rural areas, where SAD gets most of its support. The party cadres also grudge the fact that the BJP has not been allowed to “flourish” in rural areas.
“These issues are expected to hamper BJP’s poll prospect,” said Gill. Further, while the party has tried to deflect anti-incumbency by fielding eight fresh faces, some of those who faced charges of irregularities have been retained because of the “winnability factor”.
BJP leader and former minister Balramji Dass Tondon, however, remains hopeful.
“There is a strong anti-incumbency factor against the Congress at the Centre due to charges of corruption and its failure to control price-rise,” he said. “The development works in state are our strength and the people want the alliance to continue in power.”