It is a battle of prestige for two Sikhs at Amritsar
Amritsar, May 15: After witnessing the crushing defeat of Arun Jaitley, one of the party stalwarts, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has banked on diplomat-turned-politician and Union Minister of State for Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri to take on sitting MP Gurjeet Aujla from Amritsar.
Amritsar is witnessing witnessing a direct Sikh versus Sikh fight between the Congress and the BJP, though 30 candidates are in the fray, including Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The phenomenon of parties fielding only Sikh candidates is a comparatively new one but the seat has always attracted political bigwigs.
Interestingly, the constituency has not witnessed an election wherein two Sikh nominees were in a direct contest with each other since 1967.
In the 2017 bypolls, Congress' Gurjit Singh Aujla defeated BJP nominee Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna, also a Sikh face by a margin of 1,99,189 votes.
History favours Congress, as the party has kept its hold on the seat for the longest time.
Since 1952, Amritsar Lok Sabha seat has been represented 12 times by the Congress while BJP nominees have represented it four times, including three consecutive wins by then BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Gurjeet Singh Aujla, sitting Congress MP, is seen facing anti-incumbency as his opponents are targeting the Congress government in the State on account of several promises made during the 2017 Assembly election but not kept.
With the Congress at the helm in the state, Puri faces an uphill task.
The Modi factor is the only hope as the outsider tag is the main disadvantage for Puri.
The former diplomat is a turbaned Sikh and can switch from English to Punjabi with ease. However, he is an urban Sikh and the constituency is dominated by Jat Sikhs. To win, he will have to rely on urban Hindu voters and the SAD's Panthic votes.
In 2014, the contest between now Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and now Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had grabbed headlines.
Despite the 'Modi wave' across India in 2014 parliamentary elections, Amarinder polled 4,82,876 votes, while Jaitely polled 3,80,106 and lost by a margin of 1,02,770 votes.