After a month-long hectic campaign, the two principal contenders for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, Arun Jaitley (BJP) and Capt Amarinder Singh (Congress), left the holy city on Thursday, each claiming victory in the elections.
"The voters gave the Congress a positive response and I am confident of my victory", said Amarinder just before he left Naushera House, which had remained his campaign headquarters for 32 days.
Jaitley, while leaving his newly-purchased home in the posh Green Avenue locality of the city, also claimed victory. "I am certain of victory", he said.
Both the leaders said they will return to the city for the counting to be held on May 16.
ANTI-INCUMBENCY VOTE IS FOR A PURPOSE: JAITLEY
Talking to select reporters at his residence, Jaitley observed that anti-incumbency against the state government did not necessarily mean a vote against the ruling alliance in the state.
"A high percentage of anti-incumbency is linked to a purpose. The purpose could be to form a new government at the national level. There was an anti-incumbency to form a new government of NDA and I think this factor went in our favour", he said when questioned about the anti-incumbency factor in the polls in Punjab.
Asked whether the high poll percentage of above 70% would favour the SAD-BJP alliance, the BJP leader pointed out that over the years the poll percentage in Punjab had been on the increase. The people here have become more aware and the tendency to vote with a purpose was there, he added.
"When two high-profile candidates are there, the poll percentage tends to increase", he added.
Jaitley observed that in the rural areas the poll percentage has always been high in Punjab and this factor will favour the SAD-BJP candidates.
Giving some insight into his campaign, Jaitley pointed out that his campaign was far better organised than the Congress or any other party. This factor definitely would go in his favour, he added.
"We fought on national issues and put forth a vision for the constituency. Then the number of people involved in our campaign was much more and above all everything was well organized", he pointed out.
Asked whether he planned to relax after the month-long campaign, the BJP leader replied, "No. I do not plan to relax. Now I am going to Delhi and from there tomorrow I will be off to other states where voting is to be held. Probably I will position myself in Varanasi".
Notably, BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is contesting from Varanasi and is pitted against Aap Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
Jaitley indicated that he would be back a couple of days before the May 16 counting to organise the party teams to observe the counting process.
UNITED CONG WAS GREATEST PLUS-POINT: AMARINDER
Amarinder, while taking leave of his party colleagues from Amritsar, said the unity in the Congress ranks was the greatest plus-point of these elections.
"The greatest satisfaction for me has been to see a totally united Congress. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I have seen a united Congress. This has been the greatest plus point of this election throughout Punjab" he said while looking towards the local leaders who came to see him off..
Amarinder, along with his aides Capt Amardeep Singh, Sandeep Sandhu, Vimal Sumbly and BIS Chahal, was given a warm send-off by MLAs OP Soni and Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Karamajit Singh Rintu, Dinesh Bassi, Jugal Kishore Sharma and Sunil Datti.
Asked about his electoral prospects, he replied, "I am positive of victory. Where ever I went on Wednesday (the polling day), I found a tilt in favour of the Congress".
The local Congress leaders then started briefing him individually of the voting pattern in their respective areas. Amarinder even claimed that some disgruntled BJP and Akali supporters voted for him.
Disagreeing with AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, who is incharge of party affairs in Punjab, the former chief minister said, "The Aam Aadmi Party has not been much of a factor and will not damage us. When the campaign started, the AAP factor was there but gradually people began to feel that if they vote for AAP, it would help the SAD-BJP. So they shifted to the Congress as they did not want to waste their vote".
Asked whether he will be going on a holiday now, Amarinder said, "No I am going home and planning to relax. After 32 days of hectic campaigning, you need some relaxation".