Congress’ Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said that Navjot Singh Sidhu would have been a tougher contestant from Amritsar than BJP leader Arun Jaitley whom he dismissed as a “nominal candidate”.
“Let me also tell now that all is over.... Had he [Mr. Sidhu] been there, I would have had a difficult fight. At the moment there is no fight. Arun Jaitley is no candidate. He may be the nominal candidate but my fight is with Akalis on the ground,” he told reporters in Amritsar.
He was responding to a question whether Mr. Sidhu not being in the fray may have benefited him in the elections.
“Have you ever heard me talk much about Jaitley.... Its always about [Bikram Singh] Majithia and Badals and all that.... So that fight remains there with Jaitley as a figure head,” said the Congress candidate from Amritsar where polling was taking place on Wednesday.
Mr. Singh, a former Punjab Chief Minister said, “To some extent it will benefit because BJP is divided. Half of BJP likes Navjot Singh Sidhu and thinks very well of him and naturally I think they are upset that he is not there.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Jaitley, the BJP nominee from Amritsar, offered prayers at the Golden Temple and later told reporters, “I have often come here and today is a special day. That is why taking blessings here is in accordance with our traditions. My message to the people is that they should come out and vote.”
SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal maintained that Punjab is not facing any anti-incumbency and said that he expected “amazing results”.
“From Punjab, we are voting for the national elections and not for the state elections. Anti-incumbency was a factor when you all thought in the last elections (2012). You will see amazing results this time. There are just 16 days to go,” he said.
Replying to a question on the drug menace, he said that the highest recovery of drugs and the maximum number of drug pushers who were arrested in the whole country were in Punjab.
“These are records according to the Home Ministry of the Government of India. We are the only state which has declared a war on drugs.... We are the only state which has recovered the maximum (amount of drugs),” he said.