Amritsar, 22 January 2017. The addition of the Aam Aadmi Party in a traditionally bipolar contest will help the ruling BJP-Akali Dal alliance in the upcoming Punjab assembly elections next month, Union Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, also taking shots at “absentee” representatives in an apparent jab at cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who defected to the Congress from his party.
Speaking in Amritsar on the campaign trail, Mr Jaitley, “I have kept in touch with this city for a very long time not withstanding any election result. I do believe that Amritsar has had a very unfortunate experience over the past 12-and-a-half years of suffering from absentee MPs.”
The reference appeared to be a shot at Mr Sidhu, a three-time lawmaker elected from Amritsar who is often criticised by his opponents of abandoning the city for commercial interests in Mumbai.
But countered over the 53-year-old’s only recent separation from the BJP, Mr Jaitley said, “Yes, we share the guilt for that and I’m not referring to only one, I’m referring to at least two who abstained from the city, and the constituency, who also abstained from parliament.”
Despite the 10-year-old regime fuelling anti-incumbency sentiments, Mr Jaitley said, he had three strong reasons to believe why the BJP-Akali combine would return to power.
Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s continuing appeal and a general appreciation for the state government’s performance, the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party would also help them divvying up the opposition to the ruling alliance, he said.
“Conventionally Punjab saw a direct election between Congress and the NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance). This time there is a divided opposition to the NDA. Both the arithmetic and the chemistry will certainly dictate the election result,” he said.