With the Patiala royal, former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, fighting his own poll battle in Amritsar, his wife, Preneet Kaur, is striving to hold the fort in Patiala, a seat she has represented in the Lok Sabha for the past three terms.
Preneet is facing tough competition from her one-time aide Deepinder Singh Dhillon, who turned rebel in the 2012 assembly elections after being denied the Congress ticket and later joined the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
It could have been a direct fight between the two, but the entry of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate and noted doctor Dr Dharamvira Gandhi has perturbed both the SAD and the Congress.
While the SAD is hoping that the AAP will eat into the Congress vote bank, the latter feels that Arvind Kejriwal’s party will do the damage to the SAD in rural areas.
Despite being a royal city, Patiala does not have much to offer in terms of job opportunities or quality civic amenities. And this fact is going against the ruling parties at the Centre and in the state (Congress and SAD, respectively).
Both major parties are indulging in a blame game over lack of development in the city, while the AAP is out to exploit the situation to garner more support.
Preneet and Dhillon are both on the back foot because of disgruntled leaders in their respective parties. The SAD candidate is dependent on halqa incharges, while Preneet has direct link with grassroots-level workers.
Dhillon is looking to turn the tide as Congress MLAs Amarinder ( Patiala City) and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot (Nabha) are busy contesting the Lok Sabha elections, while Dera Bassi assembly seat has no Congress leader.
While Preneet is accusing the SAD-BJP government of diverting funds to Bathinda and scuttling her projects, Dhillon is claiming that she has failed to bring any major project to Patiala in the past 15 years, including 10 years of the Congress-led UPA. And the AAP is blaming both the SAD and the Congress for “failing on all fronts”.
The main parties are raking up issues such as Ghaggar floods, poor infrastructure, lack of development, unemployment and drug addiction, but all they are offering are promises, no solutions.