Former Army Chief General (Retd) J J Singh's entry into the Punjab assembly polls fray has raised the stakes for Congress in Patiala assembly constituency. With the Shiromani Akali Dal fielding General (retd) J J Singh as its candidate in Patiala, the poll constituency has turned into a battlefield of ex-servicemen. The Congress' state president, Captain Amarinder Singh, is also contesting from Patiala making it a battle between captain and general.
Votes of Ex-servicemen and current armed forces personnel that was assumed to be completely in favour of Capt Amarinder Singh, is likely to be divided between both armymen turned politicians during this assembly poll. Capt Amarinder Singh has enjoyed support of ex-servicemen in terms of perception politics too which has been challenged this time around with Gen J J Singh's candidature. According to current data available with the election commission, there are 1,40,314 registered voters in the assembly constituencies. Out of this, cantonment area has close to 5000 votes and more than 6500 votes of those serving in the armed forces. Consolidated votes of ex-servicemen, servicemen and their families could be a deciding factor for victory.
In the 2012 assembly polls, Congress represented by Capt Amarinder Singh won by a huge margin of 42,318 votes and SAD's Surjit Singh Kohli stood a distant second. This time around victory is unlikely to be a piece of cake for Capt Amarinder and the Congress.
While many have criticised Gen J J Singh was choosing to play opponent to another ex-serviceman, many are happy with the fact that an alternate has been created. Instead of voting for one among them, servicemen in Patiala now have the option of choosing one of the two among them.