Monday, October 2, 2023



Congress establishes its winning streak by capturing Gurdaspur – by KS Chawla

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The Congress which won the 2017 Vidhan Sabha poll with a huge majority has continued its winning streak by capturing the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by election with a massive margin of two lakh votes – the victory margin at Gurdaspur has been the highest ever.

The by election was caused with the death of Vinod Khanna a film actor. The Congress had put up Sunil Jakhar, the state president of the party as its candidate from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat. Sunil Jakhar had received a setback when he lost his Vidhan Sabha election from Abohar his home turf.

Despite the propaganda of the SAD-BJP and AAP who described Sunil Jakhar as outsider, his victory has established the supremacy of the Congress and is a verdict in favour of the six month rule of Captain Amarinder Singh Government in Punjab. The verdict in favour Congress is a vote against the demonitisation and implementation of the GST (goods and service tax) and exposed the hollowness of one tax one nation theory of the Modi Government.

The SAD-BJP Combined put up Swaran Singh Salaria and AAP Major General Suresh Khajuria (retired). The AAP candidate lost his deposit. AAP’s poor showing also exposed the much hyped created during the Vidhan Sabha 2017.

Sunil Jakhar while commenting on his victory has stated that the verdict of the people of Gurdaspur was against the GST and the divisive policies of the NDA Government led Narendra Modi. He claimed that even the BJP voters did not vote for the BJP candidate.

Captain Amarinder Singh has also hailed the victory of Sunil Jakhar and said this showed the revival of the Congress. He was confident that Congress would do well in 2019 Lok Sabha election as NDA graph was sliding down.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, the local bodies minister was much happier person as he saw the defeat of Sukhbir Singh Badal and his brother-in-law Bikram Majithia in the victory of Sunil Jakhar. Navjot has said that the people of Gurdaspur have given a gift to the would be president of the Congress Rahul Gandhi. Navjot has a special reason to be happy with the outcome of the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by poll as he was victim of the conspiracy of Badals in ousting him from Amritsar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when Arun Jaitley was brought to the holy city in his place. Arun Jaitley lost to Amarinder Singh with a margin of more than one lakh votes.

Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat has been returning both Congress and the BJP candidates. While Sukhans Kaur Bhinder of the Congress had been returned from his seat twice and was a state minister as well.

Yagya Dutt Sharma late president of the Punjab BJP was returned in 1977 and Vinod Khanna had won this seat as BJP nominee four times. Out of nine Vidhan segments which forms Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, seven Vidhan Sabha were won by the Congress in 2017 and two seats went to the BJP. The Congress party worked like a united team, although Partap Singh Bajwa former Congress President had his reservations as he was seeking ticket for his wife.

However, later he also joined the Congress campaign and worked for the success of Sunil Jakhar. Congress got huge response from all the communities including jat Sikhs, hindus and Christians who formed a sizeable chunk of votes in this constituency.

The Congress got a boost with the exposure of the alleged misdeeds of Sucha Singh Langah a senior Akali leader of Gurdaspur who was booked in rape and cheating case and his pictures appeared on the social media. His immediate expulsion from the Akalidal by Sukhbir Singh Badal and excommunication by the Akal Takhat from the Sikh panth also brought the jat Sikh votes to the Congress. At the same time, pictures of the BJP candidate Swaran Salaria also became viral on the social media as a case of alleged sexual harassment had also been registered. Salaria had bragged ‘there is no question of his losing the seat’.

The humiliating defeat of the BJP candidate Salaria has also brought the differences among the Akalidal and BJP leaders on the surface as the BJP leaders have alleged that the Akalidal did not support the BJP candidate honestly. Some of the leaders have even talked of BJP parting company with the Akali Dal and contesting the next election independently of the Akalidal. One thing is sure that for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the BJP will seek larger share of the thirteen Lok Sabha seats of Punjab. As of now both the Akali Dal and BJP stand decimated in Punjab for their failure to serve the people of Punjab during the ten years rule from 2007 to 2017 in which the Punjab’s economy has gone to the dogs. The farming crisis has become beyond redemption.

Because of the reckless functioning of the ten years rule of the BJP-SAD, Captain Amarinder Singh Government is facing the worst type of economic crisis and it will take many years to set the state economy on rails. Sunil Jakhar is a seasoned politician and is not involved in any controversy.

His father Balram Jakhar who was elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha was leader of the opposition in 1977 in the Vidhan Sabha when the SAD-Janata Party won absolute majority in Punjab after lifting of the emergency. Balram Jakhar was a tall leader of the Punjab Congress besides being the leader of the farmers and he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 from Ferozepur lok sabha seat. As Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980 after the collapse of the Janata Government at the Centre, Balram Jakhar was elected speaker of the Lok Sabha and he served on this seat twice. He was also a Indira loyalist. Later Balram Jakhar changed his Lok Sabha seat because of militancy in Punjab and he moved to Rajasthan. He served as agriculture minister in the P V Narsimha Rao Government.

With the election of Sunil Jakhar to the Lok Sabha, he being the president of the Punjab Congress, Jakhar and Captain Amarinder Singh need to go for complete mobilization of the Congress cadres in Punjab to win the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. It is good fortune of Punjab, that both Amarinder and Sunil Jakhar are on very good terms and people of Punjab have a feeling that they will raise the morale of the workers and reap good results in 2019. The people of Punjab are not ready to forgive Badals and particularly Sukhbir Singh Badal for his authoritarian rule. Sukhbir is responsible for the present malaise of Punjab and cannot be absolved of this sin.
K S Chawla is a senior journalist based at Ludhiana.
Can be reached at : [email protected]
Mobile : 99886-44244

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