Independent candidate Balkar Sidhu got a shot in the arm as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), on Sunday, decided to support him in the byelection. The BSP candidate had secured more than 4,000 votes in 2012 assembly elections and 2,100 in the recently-held parliamentary polls.
Balkar has been running an impressive campaign as Independent since AAP took a U-turn on his nomination as a party candidate and decided to field Baljinder Kaur.
BSP's decision at the eleventh hour to support Sidhu is going to create further division in the already divided anti-government vote bank in Talwandi Sabo.
The Dalit vote bank traditionally goes with the Congress and it was taking the BSP vote bank for granted, as the latter had not fielded any candidate in the byelection.
It is not only Balkar Sihdu and BSP that affecting the prospects of the Congress but also AAP candidate Baljinder Kaur, who can also harm its vote bank.
With Sikh militancy background, Baljinder Kaur's father Darshan Singh had secured nearly 10,000 votes in 2010 Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections. It was actually the Congress vote bank that was polled against SAD candidate in the SGPC election.
Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi is relative of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and this profile can divert Sikh votes of the Congress towards the AAP candidate.
It is interesting that Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa also attacked Aam Aadmi Party for its alleged role as a 'B' team of the SAD and said, "Each and every vote going to that party would only end up helping the Akali Dal candidate and the people must realise it. It was because of the Aam Aadmi Party that Harsimrat Kaur Badal had managed to scrape through in the Lok Sabha election despite the anger of the people against her."
AAP's weakest candidate in parliamentary elections Jassi Jasraj, who contested from Bathinda, had secured more than 15,000 votes only from Talwandi Sabo constituency. Any addition in this vote bank will hurt the Congress severely.
Not only from outside, but division within the Congress is also the party's biggest worry. Neither former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh nor his supporters in Talwandi Sabo were seen supporting Harminder Singh Jassi in this election.
Though Harsimrat Kaur secured a lead of 11,000 votes from Talwandi Sabo in the parliamentary elections, yet SAD is not taking it for granted as many SAD leaders are not happy with Jeet Mohinder's candidature. Hence, SAD is also expecting to lose some votes to AAP and Balkar. However, the division in votes still seems to benefit the SAD.