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Rediff.com  » News » Punjab: Rebels may dent Cong advantage over SAD-BJP combine

Punjab: Rebels may dent Cong advantage over SAD-BJP combine

Last updated on: January 25, 2012 12:50 IST
With six days to go for state assembly polls in Punjab, political parties have intensified their campaign in the state. The outgoing ruling alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Bharatiya Janata Party is banking on Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and L K Advani to retain power in the state.

Meanwhile, the Congress led by its state president Captain Amarinder Singh with the help of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders are leaving no stone unturned to topple the Akali-BJP combine.  

The BJP is making desperate attempts to save its face in Punjab after its ministers had to resign from the Cabinet on charges of corruption. Five years ago, Prakash Singh Badal and the BJP joined hands to throw Captain Amarinder Singh out of power. Now, they find the tables turned on them.

For Rediff Realtime News on the Punjab elections, click here! 

"We are winning the elections and the Captain seems to be buying time from the Congress party. We will get more seats this time than we did last time. The BJP should also do well," Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal told a crowd of 7,000 in Patiala district.

He denied that he was being pitched for the post of CM. "One thing that I have been making clear is that once we regain power Sardar Prakash Singh Badal would continue to be the chief minister, as we need his experience in adminisstration. After all he is the tallest leader of the state," he told rediff.com.

However, the Congress seems to have an edge in Punjab.

Gandhi who addressed several public meetings in the state this past week has asked pointed questions on the development claims made by the Akali Dal-BJP alliance. "Explain what development the Akali-BJP government had carried out in the state in the past five years. This government had proved to be most inefficient one and Punjab had seen total decline on all fronts during the last five years," she said.

She charged the state government with using only Rs 526 crore out of Rs 5,000 crore sent to the state for distribution under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. She called the bluff of the ruling alliance by telling the crowd the 'atta-daal scheme' of the state government was 100 per cent financed by the Centre. And still the Akali-BJP government was trying to claim credit for it". 

Meanwhile, Captain Amarinder Singh is striving hard and hopping from constituency to constituency to ensure that the edge the Congress has over the Akali Dal-BJP alliance is not lost because of weak management of the polls by party workers. He has been in touch with the party high command to chalk out the election schedule.

He hopes to bag at least 60-plus seats to ensure that the Congress has a smooth victory.

However, the Congress too has a problem at hand.  It has to deal with substantial number of rebels who were denied tickets. Leading the bandwagon of rebels is Malvinder Singh, the brother of Captain Amarinder Singh.

"In the 117-seat assembly to get a clear verdict you need to have 60 seats. At the moment, neither the Congress nor the Akali Dal-BJP seems to be getting a clear majority. There are 35 seats that are decided under a margin of 1,000 votes. The key factor would be who suffers defeat at the hands of the candidates fielded by Manpreet Brar, a member of the Badal family who has parted ways with them," Varinder Walia, editor, Punjabi Tribune told rediff.com.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi