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Saffron party’s solo run may mar chances of retaining Gurdaspur

Screenshot 2024 04 03 170646Gurdaspur: The BJP’s decision to field Dinesh Babbu and go solo may mar its chances of retaining the Gurdaspur parliamentary seat.

The optimism being exuded by some senior leaders is that the party is better placed minus SAD. However, observers maintain it will be difficult for the BJP to hang on to the seat following the new path and political posture adopted by it.

The constituency has nine Assembly seats and the party will be hardpressed to perform well in at least five.

In the 2019 elections, incumbent MP Sunny Deol did well in the four Hindu majority seats of Bhoa, Pathankot, Sujanpur and Dinanagar, winning each by a whopping margin of 30,000 votes. However, when the ballots for the five Sikh-dominated seats were counted, he ran into a wall. He suffered reverses in Dera Baba Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian, losing each by 20,000-plus votes. In Batala too, his opponent Sunil Jakhar of the Congress won by 956 votes while in Gurdaspur, the BJP won by a wafer-thin margin of 1,059 votes. It was the same story in Qadian as the party managed a lead of just 1,021 votes. All this was when the farmers’’ agitation was unheard of and the party was in alliance with the Akalis.

“If the BJP gave a below par performance when the Akalis were with it, you can well imagine what will happen to its candidate with the SAD no longer backing the party. To complicate matters, the ongoing farmers’ agitation is giving the party goose pimples,” admitted a senior Delhi leader.

“The SAD has a lot of political baggage which has become very difficult for us to carry,” said long-term BJP watcher Dr Samrenda Sharma. This assertion, however, runs parallel to the claims of senior Akali leaders who say “BJP is doomed without their cooperation.”

Historically, too, it has been seen that the BJP has done well when it was in a pact with the Akalis. “Statistics prove beyond doubt that the BJP had a smooth sailing only when it had the backing of the Akalis. Whenever it had contested alone, it had faced difficult times,” said a senior Delhi-based leader.

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