The border state of Punjab with its 117 Assembly constituencies along with Uttar Pradesh’s 59 constituencies spread across 16 districts will go to the polls On Feb 20. In Punjab, which was the epicentre of farmer unions’ protests against the now-repealed farm laws, the ruling Congress, AAP, SAD and BJP-led alliance are caught in a multi-cornered contest, while in UP the ruling BJP is slogging it out with its main contender and Yadav dominated Samajwadi Party (SP), which is giving the saffron party a tough fight.
Out of the 59 seats that will go to polls in the third phase in UP, 29 seats fall in the traditional Yadav belt, including Karhal from where SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting. The BJP has fielded Union minister S.P.S. Baghel against him.
In Punjab, prominent candidates include CM Charanjit Singh Channi, PCC chief Navjot Sidhu, former Congress stalwart and CM and now BJP ally Capt. Amarinder Singh, SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, and the party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, and AAP’s CM face Bhagwant Mann. Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, a political front of various farmer bodies, is also trying its luck in Punjab this time.
A day polling in Punjab, the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Saturday directed the district election officer-cum-district commissioner of Mohali and the SSP to register an FIR against AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and his party for violating the Model Code of Conduct and for “making false and frivolous allegations against other political parties.”
The direction was given on the complaint of Arshdeep Singh Kler, vice-president and spokesman of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The complainant raised objection to a video uploaded on social media platforms by AAP Punjab. He alleged that the video maligned the image of SAD and other political parties in the eyes of the general public. The video in question is a song, Es vaar jhaadu challooga, which shows the photographs of the CM, Captain Singh and Sukhbir Singh Badal and uses derogatory words for them.
In Punjab, the ruling Congress has been under severe criticism from its political opponents over various issues, including the drug menace and corruption. Security in the border state is also one of the main poll planks of the Opposition parties. Though some opinion polls seem to be suggesting that the Congress may not retain power, the party is banking heavily on decisions like reduction in electricity tariff and fuel prices.