Getting a substantial chunk of votes from three urban assembly segments of the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency — Jalandhar North, Jalandhar West and Jalandhar Central —will be an uphill task for Shiromani Akali Dal's Pawan Kumar Tinu in the Lok Sabha elections this time.
The Akalis have done miserably in these assembly segments, which the BJP won during the 2007 and 2012 polls, every time their candidate was in the electoral fray for the Lok Sabha elections.
The challenge will be multifold, especially keeping in mind a possible anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP government in cities.
The margin between the votes polled during the assembly election for the BJP candidate and the Lok Sabha polls for the SAD candidate is very high in these segments.
Every time a SAD candidate lost from Jalandhar in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress got a decisive lead from these assembly segments.
During the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, SAD candidate Hans Raj Hans had lost with a margin of 36, 445 at the hands of Congress' Mohinder Singh Kaypee and the Akalis trailed by a huge margin of 41, 859 from these three assembly segments alone. Hans, however, managed to lead from Shahkot and Nakodar assembly (rural) segments.
The highest lead Kaypee received was from Jalandhar North, which is represented by BJP MLA and chief parliamentary secretary KD Bhandari, followed by Jalandhar West (12, 958 votes) and Jalandhar Central (10, 125 voets).
Interestingly, when Bhandari won during the 2007 and 2012 assembly polls, he received 45, 579 votes and 52,198 votes respectively.
However, in 2004 Lok Sahba elections, SAD candidate Naresh Kumar Gujral managed to get only 26, 833 votes from this segment whereas in 2009, the party polled 36815 votes.
In Jalandhar West, the SAD received only 27, 060 and 32, 108 votes in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls respectively whereas the BJP candidate received 56, 775 and 48, 207 votes in the 2007 and 2012 assembly polls.
In Jalandhar Central, where former local bodies minister and MLA Manoranjan Kalia contested from, the SAD candidate secured only 28, 588 and 34094 votes in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls respectively.
Kalia had secured 47, 221 and 44963 votes in 2007 and 2012 assembly polls respectively.
"It is a fact that upper caste voters generally do not vote for the SAD due to a history of various Hindu-Sikh issues involved. But they vote for the BJP when it contests on its symbol in the assembly polls," said a political expert.
"There is a strong Modi factor and unprecedented ground work being done by the RSS and other right-wing groups. History is sure to change its course in these results," a senior BJP leader claimed.
Former Congress minister Avtar Henry said the strong anti-incumbancy against the Badal government would make it easier for the Congress this time.
"In 2012 assembly polls, our candidates lost by a narrow margin of below 4,000 votes in these three seats. This is another edge," he said.