Phillaur/Jalandhar: In the 2012 Punjab assembly elections, Phillaur constituency stood out for a statistic which could be a nightmare for most contestants: the lowest victory margin in the polls of just 31 votes—0.02% of the total.
A closely-contested, multi-cornered fight is said to be the key reason behind the low margin, which could be repeated in the 4 February election, according to voters and analysts.
Eight contestants have filed nominations to contest the Phillaur seat. Congress candidate Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Baldev Singh Khaira and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Saroop Singh Kaidiana are the front-runners. Given that it is a reserved seat, Avtar Singh Karimpuri, a candidate from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), is also in the fray.
“There has always been a close contest here. Last time, this seat saw SAD win by the lowest margin. Even the difference between the second and third candidate was very less,” said Kulwant Singh, a 40-year-old carpenter in Paddi Khalsa village of Phillaur constituency.
Phillaur, a small assembly constituency of less than 200,000 voters in Jalandhar district, saw nine contestants in the previous assembly election, out of which six lost their deposits. Eventually, the seat was won by SAD’s Avinash Chander.
“This time will be no different and it looks this will be a closely fought contest again. Unlike the rest of the state, it will be a four-cornered contest here with BSP also playing a key role,” Kulwant Singh added.
Phillaur could be a microcosm of Punjab, which has traditionally been a two-party state but is witnessing a three-cornered contest with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP joining the fray.
“With more parties in contest the percentage of votes to win will not have to be that high,” said Ashutosh Kumar, a Chandigarh-based political analyst and a professor in the department of political science at Panjab University.
The Congress party is looking to return to power after 10 years in Punjab, where it is facing a tough battle against the AAP.