With the campaigning for the elections in the 35 wards of Batala municipal council (MC) coming to a close by Monday night, various parties are making last-ditch efforts to turn the tide in their favour by promising the moon to the voters, but infighting in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, has given the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is contesting 28 wards here for the first time, an upper hand.
The tough fight being given by rebels of various parties to their official nominees may throw up many a surprise in the February 25 civic polls.
The rebels of the BJP and the Congress, who were contesting as Independents after failing to get party tickets, are trying to strike a chord with the voters, who are dismayed with the political parties for their failure to tackle various problems such as dysfunctional street lights, chocked sewerages, inadequate supply of drinking water and politically-backed encroachments.
Initially, it seemed that the rift in the SAD-BJP alliance would give a cakewalk to the Congress candidates, but the clash of egos between two senior Congress leaders -- local MLA Ashwani Sekhri and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa over distribution of party tickets, has spoilt their chances to control the local council.
The rift between these two leaders has adversely affected the Congress as 27 candidates belonging to the Sekhri camp are fighting the elections as Independents after being denied party ticket.
Just eight Congress candidates belonging to the Partap Bajwa group managed to get the Congress symbol.
Bajwa's brother and PPCC general secretary Fateh Singh Bajwa on Sunday campaigned for three Congress candidates while senior party leader and Sekhri's brother, Inder Sekhri, campaigned in the same wards for Independents belonging to their camp.
On the other hand, the BJP, which is facing litmus test for retaining their control on MC, is also divided in two groups. Notwithstanding the party's claims to unity, theses groups, led by district BJP president Suresh Bhatia and former district party chief Naresh Mahajan, have fielded their supporters to contest as Independents against the party's official candidates.
Though the party is claiming to have suspended several such dissidents who were contesting against the official candidates, their vote share will certainly affect the outcome of these polls.
Observers say that BJP rebels like three-time BJP councillor, Dharam Vir Seth, Gurbax Singh Malhi, Surinder Kumar, Raj Kumar Kali, Manisha Seth, Sukhdev Mahajan and Harnaik Singh Neki are set to spoil the chances of partyls official nominees.
Meanwhile, SAD halqa incharge Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, under which the party is contesting the 28 wards for the first time, is leaving no stone unturned for the victory of the party candidates.