The ruling Congress in Punjab is confident of winning all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state as it faces a "faction-ridden" and "divided" Opposition in the hustings. Congress will be firing on all cylinders to take on the SAD-BJP alliance and AAP in the parliamentary polls beginning April 11.
"We are seeing the opposition the way it is. Akali Dal has disintegrated and AAP has also broken into groups. BJP, within its cadres, has a lot of infighting," said Asha Kumari, Congress Punjab affairs in-charge. She exuded confidence that Congress will win all 13 seats in the state.
To accomplish its 'Mission 13', Congress will highlight the achievements of its two-year regime and target the BJP-led Centre for its "failures" at the national level. Both Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will highlight the "non-performance" of the Punjab government on poll promises like farm debt waiver and smart phones for youths etc.
It is going to be interesting to see how SAD fares in the elections in the backdrop of expulsion of Taksali (old guard) leaders Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan.The three floated SAD (Taksali) late last year.
SAD president Badal has described the leaders as of "no consequence".The resignation of senior leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from party posts in September last year also did not augur well for SAD. It came at a time when the party was facing heat over sacrilege of religious scriptures and pardon granted to Dera Sacha Sauda chief in a blasphemy case.
The SAD, which claims to be the "only custodian" of Sikh issues, has rejected the Ranjit Singh Commission report, which dealt with sacrilege incidents in Punjab. It also accused the Special Investigation Team, probing the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents, of implicating party leaders at the behest of Congress.
The going is likely to be tough for AAP as well, which has grappled with infighting and factionalism in the state unit.It is going to be an uphill task for the party to retain the four Lok Sabha seats which it had won in the 2014 polls despite a Modi wave across the country.Senior leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira parted ways with AAP after he was ousted from the post of the leader of opposition.
Khaira, along with seven other MLAs, had formed a parallel ad hoc political affairs committee and declared the party's state unit "autonomous", before resigning from AAP in January this year. He floated a new party -- Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP).
The Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) comprising PEP, Bahujan Samaj Party, Lok Insaaf Party, suspended AAP MP Dharamvira Gandhi-led Punjab Manch, CPI and Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) is also in the fray.
The PDA has announced seven candidates for the parliamentary elections. Besides AAP's four seats, Congress had won three, SAD won four and BJP bagged two in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, in 2017 Gurdaspur bypoll, necessitated by the death of BJP MP Vinod Khanna, Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar won the seat.
Polling will be held in Punjab in single phase on May 19 and results will be announced on May 23.