Arun Jaitley banks on Modi wave, personal charm
Starting from Chadda House, on Thursday, Jaitley starts the day with an interaction with a huge gathering of party workers and visitors. That done, he moves out to attend a series of meetings with party workers and others at the BJP headquarters at Khanna Samarak. At around noon, he meets up with industry cell members followed by a meeting with south constituency mandal office bearers.
The talk in the meetings follows a similar pattern, starting with the strategy to maximise vote mobilization and concluding with the assurance that Modi mania would attract voters in a big way. He makes no bones about the fact that the fate of BJP candidates including his own is dependent largely on the charisma of the party’s prime-ministerial hopeful. ‘Ultimately, it will be the Modi factor which would push the voter to vote for the BJP and give us a clear majority,’ he says.
By evening, it’s the customary session with the media at the party’s Ranjit Avenue office. Here, Jaitley focuses on local issues highlighting the severe problem of drug addiction in the state. He says the youth must be taken away from drugs and made to concentrate on sports from an early age. Youth should be driven towards skill development, industrial training institutes, polytechnics, entrepreneur development and multi-lingual programmes should be brought in for them.
He emphasised on the need to promote tourism in the city by strengthening the tourism circuit. Regarding his vision for the city he said various issues related to areas like infrastructure, economy, heritage sites and others need to be addressed.
Jaitley has extensively campaigned in Amritsar over two weeks. This being his first parliamentary elections for a Lok Sabha seat, he tells us that ‘campaigning in Amritsar had been an enjoyable experience’ for him and he was ‘confident of victory’ here.
The holy city of Amritsar is one out of 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of Punjab and the hub of Sikh politics. He is being challenged by former Punjab chief minister Captain Amrinder Singh, the Congress candidate, who kick-started his campaign on Thursday. Even though Singh wasn’t keen to contest, he followed the party (Congress) high command’s orders to do so.
The fight for Amritsar is going to be an interesting one as the BJP is being backed by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Even though Jaitley’s candidature here replaced sitting MP, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, from the constituency, SAD’s support is expected to help the party sail through smoothly. Sidhu is not campaigning in Amritsar, but according to Jaitley, he is doing so outside the city. Sidhu’s wife is helping in the campaign in Amritsar.