Party may use 2022 polls as the starting point to grow on its own in Punjab.


New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is getting ready for the Assembly elections in Punjab and announced that it will contest all the 117 assembly constituencies on its own in the upcoming elections scheduled in February 2022. In the national executive meeting of the party held in New Delhi, the state president of BJP’s Punjab Unit Ashwini Sharma in his detailed presentation in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party president J.P. Nadda, argued that the rank and file of the party is ready to fight all the 117 seats in the state. Many experts and observers of Punjab see it as the first clear attempt by the party to grow on its own in Punjab.

All this is happening at a time when former Chief Minister of Punjab and ex-Congress leader Amarinder Singh declared he would float his own political party and hinted at an alliance with the saffron outfit, if the ongoing farmers’ protest was resolved and the farmers’ demands were met.

Recently, in Chandigarh, the BJP had launched its slogan “Nawan Punjab –BJP de naal” (New Punjab with BJP) in the presence of central ministers who argued that the party is prepared for the polls and ready to go alone. Senior Punjab BJP leader Satish Sharma said, “What people are thinking sitting in New Delhi about the party is not right. We are a force in the state. The problem was that we allied with the SAD, which stopped our growth in the state. Now when we have decided to strengthen our own party, it will impact the state. I am confident that we will emerge as a major player in the state after the 2022 Assembly polls. In the urban cities we have been a player since the 1980s. If you look at 30-35 Assembly segments, we have been strong since the last two decades. What we need now is to convince the rural voters that the BJP and our leader Narendra Modi wants to develop the farming community and are open for talks with farmers on the farm laws.” The farm protest is a difficult terrain for the party to convince the rural Sikh electorate.

The BJP is working very tactically in Punjab by trying to garner the support of the Sikh community and presenting itself as the party, which in its tenure at the centre had worked tirelessly for the community’s interests—like the starting of the Kartarpur corridor, which connects the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan, granting Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration to Gurdwara Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), enabling it to receive foreign donations.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, the saffron party won three seats, its lowest in the last 15-years and that had convinced the party that it needed to grow on its own in the state. Senior political analyst and former professor at the Punjab University Chandigarh Jashndeep Singh Mann said, “The BJP had some chance in the urban seats. The alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had damaged it as the party was never able to strengthen the organization across the state. Now it has the chance to work and get powerful in the state. The elections of 2022 should be seen for the BJP as a starting point to grow on its own in Punjab.”

In the border state of Punjab, the BJP was in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) since the 1990s with a declared formula of seat sharing in which the saffron outfit contested 23 seats and the SAD contested 94 seats. However, last year amid the chaos of the farm bills, SAD had decided to break the alliance with the BJP and its representative resigned from the central cabinet.