Punjab contest no longer bipolar, but BJP clear winner: Jaitley

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said though the contest in the February 4 Punjab assembly elections was no longer bipolar with the “advent of new smaller parties”, the BJP will nevertheless emerge clear winner.

The Bharatiya Janata Party in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal is part of a coalition government in Punjab since 2007.

Speaking with News18 TV channel, Jaitley said he is not denying the existence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab but asserted it is not a threat.

“Due to misgovernance in Delhi and several mistakes they made in Punjab, the AAP’s popularity has come down significantly. I won’t say that AAP doesn’t exist in Punjab, but it is relevant only in a few seats,” Jaitley said.

“On the other hand, the BJP has certain advantages. For example, the BJP-led central government is very popular among the masses. Punjab has also improved on developmental parameters,” he added.

The senior BJP leader had lost the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar in 2014 to Congress leader Amarinder Singh.

As for the allegations pertaining to corruption and drug trade against the Badals, Jaitley said it is “just a perception” and he had never come across any evidence of their involvement.

Jaitely said both law and order machinery and societal intervention are needed to address the drug menace in the border state.

Besides, he said, more rehabilitation centres should be set up.

The BJP leader took a dig at cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s statement that he (Sidhu) is a born Congressman, Jaitley said: “He realised the fact of his birth too late.”

Sidhu left the BJP last year and joined the Congress this month.

On the BJP’s chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh, Jaitley said the BJP is not projecting anyone as yet for the post.

–IANS

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