With the election campaign over, the stage is all set for the June 10 civic body polls in Patiala having high stakes for both the ruling SAD-BJP alliance and the opposition Congress.
Trying every trick in the book, the ruling SAD-BJP is confident of recapturing the civic body, especially after securing a thumping victory in the recently concluded assembly polls.
But the ground reality suggests the ruling combine would need a magic wand to repeat its performance considering the strong foothold the Congress enjoys in the royal city.
In fact, among the four cities going for civic polls, Patiala happens to be the Congress's strongest constituency.
The Congress in the last assembly polls had completely outplayed the SAD-BJP combine by bagging a lead of around 65,000 votes from 50 wards that comprise the civic body.
From Patiala Urban, comprising 30 wards of the city, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Captain Amarinder Singh had won by more than 42,000 votes. From 20 wards falling under Patiala Rural segment, the Congress candidate Brahm Mohindra had managed a lead of more than 23,000 votes.
In around four wards of Patiala Rural and seven wards of Patiala Urban, the SAD-BJP combine had managed to get only 50 to 100 votes each from one ward.
Even from the ward represented by Mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli and senior deputy mayor Anil Bajaj, the SAD-BJP combine had faced humiliating defeat in the assembly polls.
In this scenario, the odds of the SAD-BJP victory don't look as bright as they seem to be. Yet, the Congress has been on the back foot during the campaign owing to several desertions from the party. The morale of the party workers is at its lowest as three official party candidates have already joined SAD.
The election outcome would hold special significance to the local member of parliament and union minister of state for foreign affairs Preneet Kaur, as she was the main strategist for the Congress.
"Since we are ruling in the state, the city residents would surely vote for the SAD-BJP combine to ensure more development works. The Congress managed thumping majority in the assembly polls, but the civic body polls are being fought on different turf and on different issues," said mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli.
Patiala Rural MLA Brahm Mohindra said that the SAD-BJP combine would win only if it managed to capture booths and threaten the Congress voters.
"A party that had suffered a humiliating defeat in the assembly polls can not win the civic body polls as most of the seats fall in the same area," said Mohindra.