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LS Polls 2014: Aam Aadmi Party may help Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress by splitting votes

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Days of communal, casteist parties numbered: AAP
Days of communal, casteist parties numbered: AAP

Chandigarh – After steadfastly dismissing the Aam Aadmi Party as a factor in the outcome of Punjab polls held on April 30, both the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP coalition and the main opposition Congress are now claiming that Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP will end up benefiting them by splitting the votes.

The post-poll assessment done by Intelligence Bureau sleuths and state police officers shows that AAP has not only made some impact in its first electoral outing in the state but also has the potential to cause an upset for the two main factions in Sangrur and Faridkot Lok Sabha constituencies.

Top IB and state police officers told ET on the condition of anonymity that AAP candidates Bhagwant Mann and Professor Sadhu Singh could win from Sangrur and Faridkot respectively.

IB and state police submit confidential reports to their respective heads. While the IB’s report is submitted to the Union home ministry, the police submits its report to the state government.

As per these assessments, AAP candidates in Patiala and Gurdaspur may have also bagged enough votes to cause “unexpected results” in these two constituencies.

Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur is the Congress candidate from Patiala against her former lieutenant Deepinder Singh Dhillon, who has been fielded by the SAD. But AAP candidate Dharamvir Gandhi is believed to have turned it into a three-way contest.

In Gurdaspur, Punjab Pradesh Congress (PPC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa is pitted against the BJP’s Vinod Khanna. AAP candidate Suche Singh Chhotepur, intelligence officers believe, can spoil the party. But they are unsure as to whether Bajwa or Khanna will have the last laugh.

“This election is the most difficult to predict. For, nobody knows as to which political party AAP will cause more damage to. There is no doubt that AAP will certainly eat into the vote share of both Akalis and the Congress. But it is very difficult to ascertain as to which party will be more damaged,” a senior IB officer said. In Amritsar, officials said, Captain Amarinder Singh might just pip Arun Jaitley to the post.

“During our pre-poll assessment we thought that the AAP factor will damage the Congress party more. However, after polling the picture got changed. It emerged that people were very unhappy with the ruling party in the state and opted for the third alternative, the Aam Aadmi Party. This time, voters chose to keep their cards close to their chest,” a top officer said.

The intelligence officers say the Akali-BJP alliance will get four or five of the 13 seats in the state. The Akalis are likely to win in Bathinda, Ferozepur, Khadoor Sahib and Jalandhar while the Akali-BJP alliance could win one more seat, an officer said. Bathinda is a prestigious seat for Akalis.

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