Monday, January 17, 2022

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Captain Amarinder Singh retains his leadership intact with eight seat win in Punjab – by KS Chawla

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Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has retained his leadership intact with the victory of eight seats out of thirteen which the Congress contested. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had won only three seats and this is a big improvement this time.

However, the victory of eight seats by the Congress in Punjab does not match, the Mission-13 which Amarinder Singh had declared. He had asserted that the Congress would bag all the thirteen seats of Punjab. However, winning eight seats is also a rebuff to the anti-incumbency of two years of Congress rule in Punjab.

The Shiromani Akali Dal which had been decimated in the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, has secured two seats – Bathinda and Ferozepur from where wife-husband duo-Harsimrat Badal and Sukhbir Badal, the party president have won. The Shiromani Akali Dal which had put up ten candidates has lost on all other seats. Now the Akali Dal has become a family party with the victory of the duo.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which had won four seats in 2014 in the wake of Kejriwal wave in Delhi, could get only one seat thanks to the lone efforts of state party unit president Bhagwant Mann who has kept the party flag flying. AAP has been decimated this time as on all other seats, the party has lost security deposits as well.

The AAP suffered setback because of the alleged dictatorial attitude of Arvind Kejriwal as a result of which two MPs namely Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa had been suspended after 2014.

Moreover, there was split in the party and Sukhpal Khaira who was leader of the opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, was removed from post has formed a new party known as Punjab Ekta Party. He further setup a Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) along with Dharamvir Gandhi, Lok Insaf Party and Bahujan Samaj Party and the CPI. Sukhpal Khaira who contested from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat has also lost.

Two AAP legislators had also defected to the Congress. Moreover, there was resentment among the AAP workers over the apology tendered by Kejriwal in a defamation case filed by Bikram Singh Majithia former Akali Minister. The AAP, as a matter of fact, has rattled in Punjab and does not have any strong base now. Bhagwant Mann who is the state president of the AAP will have to work hard to rebuild its base in Punjab.

The Congress party in Punjab has received a severe setback as its State president Sunil Jakhar lost to film actor Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur seat. Jakhar had won Gurdaspur in the by election with a margin of nearly two lakh votes. Jakhar lost Gurdaspur due to the Modi charisma despite the fact that almost all the Vidhan Sabha segments in Gurdaspur were held by the Congress legislators. BJP also won Hoshiarpur reserve lok sabha seat. BJP lost its third seat of Amritsar where Hardip Puri was the BJP candidate to the Congress nominee GS Aujla who was sitting MP.

KS ChawlaThe Shiromani Akali Dal had to face wrath of the Sikh voters due to the sacrilege incidents of Guru Granth Sahib and police firing at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. The radical Sikh organizations had organized demonstrations against the Badals to protest against the sacrilege incidents. The Badals while campaigning gave up the Panthic agenda and adopted Modi’s nationalist agenda.

Parkash Singh Badal former Chief Minister who has been talking of Panthic agenda only and claiming to be the sole representative of the Sikhs also adopted the Modi agenda and said that Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi were friends of Sikhs and Punjab… forgetting that the erstwhile Jan Sangh had opposed the formation of the Punjabi Suba.

The Sikh politics witnessed major revolt against Badals after 2017 vidhan sabha elections and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa a senior Akali leader was the first to revolt against the leadership of Sukhbir Singh Badal and sought his removal. Later three more senior Akali leaders namely Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Dr. Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan also raised the banner of revolt and they formed Akali Dal (Taksali). But the Badals could check the onslaught further and no other Akali deserted the Badals. Akali Dal (Taksali) put up Bir Devinder Singh former Deputy Speaker of Vidhan Sabha from Anandpur Sahib where he lost.

As a matter of fact, the Badals were engaged only in campaigning at Bathinda and Ferozepur seats as their prestige was involved. The eight candidates of the Akali Dal were left to fend for themselves. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s son Parminder Dhindsa contested from Sangrur seat but senior Dhindsa did not support him. He had advised his son not to contest the election on Akali ticket.

Captain Amarinder Singh who led the campaign from the front had warned the Congress legislators and ministers that their performance in the election would decide their future. But this did not have much impact as some senior Congress leaders including ministers opposed the candidature of Sher Singh Gubhaya who had defected from Akali Dal, was given ticket from Ferozepur seat.

He lost to Sukhbir Badal with quite a big margin. Gubhaya was sitting Akali MP from Ferozepur and had developed differences with Sukhbir as a result of which he resigned from Akali Dal and joined the Congress in the presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Captain Amarinder Singh is feeling very much uncomfortable with Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. Sidhu has reportedly stated at Bathinda that ‘there was friendly match’. Amarinder feels that this has resulted into the defeat of the Congress nominee Amarinder Singh Raja Warring against Harsimrat Badal.

Harsimrat won by 21,000 votes after trailing in the rural areas. She won because of the urban votes. Manpreet Badal, Finance Minister also represents Bathinda Urban seat in the Vidhan Sabha and the victory of Harsimrat also is a reflection on Manpreet Badal.

Chief Minister has announced that he would send his report to the party high command regarding the role of Navjot Singh Sidhu and has hinted at changing his portfolio.

Navjot Sidhu wanted ticket for his wife from Chandigarh which was denied to her and Pawan Bansal was given the ticket. Bansal has lost to BJP nominee Kirron Kher. Navjot’s wife could give a better fight to Kirron Kher as she is having a clean image as compared to Pawan Bansal.

K S Chawla is a senior journalist based at Ludhiana.
Can be reached at : [email protected]
Mobile : 99886-44244

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