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Punjab: In 20 seats it lost in 2017 polls, BJP wrests 11 from Cong, cuts lead in 9

In the assembly seat sharing matrix, the saffron party contests 23 urban seats , while its senior ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the remaining 94.

india Updated: May 29, 2019 12:12 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Lok Sabha Punjab elections,Shiromani Akali Dal,Punjab elections
In all the three seats the BJP won in state polls, it has bettered its vote tally, including Phagwara, Sujanpur and Abohar.(AFP File Photo )

The BJP has made major inroads into the Congress seats in Punjab, an analysis of all the 20 assembly segments that the BJP failed to win in the Punjab polls two years back in February 2017 reveals.

In the assembly seat sharing matrix, the saffron party contests 23 urban seats , while its senior ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the remaining 94.

During the last state polls, the Congress had reclaimed its traditional vote bank of Hindus to wrest seats contested by the BJP. It won Pathankot, Bhoa, Dinanagar, Jalandhar North, Jalandhar Central, Mukerian, Dasuya, Anandpur Sahib, Hoshiarpur, Fazilka and Ferozepur city. But it has lost all these 11 segments in the parliamentary polls.

In nine other assembly seats the BJP lost to the Congress in Punjab elections, the leads of the ruling party have shrunk considerably. Though the Congress has been able to lead in all the four assembly seats in Amritsar city that the BJP contests, its victory margin has taken a hit in all four.

The steepest fall is in local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Amritsar East seat where the party’s lead is down by 37,000 votes. Though school education minister OP Soni has been able to sail through with a slender lead of 5,378 votes in the Amritsar Central seat, the party’s margin is over 15,000 votes down.

In the Hindu-dominated Jalandhar West seat which the BJP lost in the state polls, the lead of Congress has fallen by 15,845 votes. It is the same story in the three seats the BJP contests in Ludhiana — Ludhiana Central, Ludhiana North and Ludhiana West — where the lead of minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu in the latter is down by 28,000 votes. In Patiala too, Hindu-dominated Rajpura segment has dented the Congress 2017 lead by 25,000 votes, though sitting Congress MLA Hardayal Kamboj has been able to save it from going the BJP way.

In all the three seats the BJP won in state polls, it has bettered its vote tally, including Phagwara, Sujanpur and Abohar, the home turf of Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar. The results reflect a tectonic shift in communal as well as urban-rural votes.

It is not just the Congress that needs to worry owing to the saffron surge in Punjab but also the Akalis. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, who posted highest victory margin in state from Ferozepur, has won handsomely from BJP seats such as Abohar, Fazilka and Ferozepur city. It is the Hindu vote that has also salvaged the Bathinda seat of Sukhbir’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Her lead has fallen in family bastion, Lambi, but she won with higher margin from urban seats of Bathinda urban, Bhucho and Budhlada.

Finance minister Manpreet Badal, who could not secure a lead for Congress in his Bathinda urban seat, says traditionally, Jat Sikh farmers supported the Akali Dal and Hindu traders in urban areas the Congress. “But the trend has reversed this time. We have done better in rural areas, among Sikh voters due to their anger against Akalis on sacrilege issue. Akalis have nothing to gloat about as Harsimrat’s vote share is falling with every election. It was 50% in 2009, 43.9% in 2014 and 41% in this election,” he said.

Against 14 of the BJP, the SAD has been able to register a lead in 21 assembly segments.

The Scheduled Caste (SC) vote has been split on communal lines. Reserved seats dominated by Sikh SCs — Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib — went the Congress way and those by Hindu SCs such as Hoshiarpur opted for the BJP.

First Published: May 29, 2019 11:00 IST