In an unusual revelation, an authoritative media site, run by a well-known left-of-centre scribe, has revealed that the Congress “returned to power in Punjab after 10 years not due to the charismatic leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh or Rahul Gandhi-Prashant Kishor's planning but on the BJP vote.”
Quoting “senior Congress MPs and a Union Minister close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, Venkatesh Kesari writes, “In the face of the impending defeat of the Akali Dal, the BJP had decided to divert its votes to the Congress in the urban cities to prevent the growth of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).”
The site, which is run by Seema Mustafa, the BJP was clear about the outcome of the Punjab polls “much before the elections”, hence its strategists knew that the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine would not get a third term “not because of the anti-incumbency factor or Amarinder Singh's leadership but entirely because of the new AAP factor in the state.”
Quoting the unnamed minister, the site says, the BJP wanted to “check the AAP at any cost", and this was decided “least three months before the actual polls”, as the party felt that Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP was turning into “a threat to both the Congress and the BJP”.
“An AAP victory in Punjab would have created problem for the two national parties in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh assembly polls in the coming months”, the site insists, adding the minister further noted the BJP had no problem if Congress came to power in Punjab.”
Not without reason, the site says, “After the polls, Prashant Kishor told the Congress high command that the Congress would get enough seats to form the government, giving a figure of about 62 seats as against the 59 required to form the government in Punjab.”
The Congress has secured 77 seats, in results that have surprised the Congress.
The view was strong in the BJP, says the site, “An AAP victory in Punjab would have given it a base to operate from, and brought it on to the national political stage as a contender.”
This, says the site, led the BJP to effect “a systematic push of votes to the Congress in the cities where the BJP has a hold” in order to “check the political ambitions of Kejriwal and the growth of his party in states where the fight is directly between the Congress and the BJP.”
The BJP source further said, according to the source, “The BJP does not see the Congress as a major threat now as it has managed to reduce the party’s presence across the country.”
“Interestingly”, said the site, “Amarinder Singh was given a rough time by the leadership in New Delhi even after the campaign had begun. The reluctance to announce him as the chief ministerial candidate was visible, as Singh was kept hanging for hours for an audience with Rahul Gandhi.”
In fact Singh's candidate was cleared at the ninth hour, the site says, adding, the decision to bring in cricketer and comedian Navjot Singh Sidhu into the Congress was, in fact, ‘cut down Amarinder Singh to size’ message.