On the iconic Giani tea stall within the coronary heart of the holy metropolis of Amritsar, a Jat Sikh pupil, Amrit Pal, appears derisively at a pamphlet distributed by a Congress employee campaigning for his occasion candidate. “What have they performed within the final 5 years to deserve my vote?’’ Earlier than one senses a component of angst at non-performance, comes the addendum; “Why did they select Charanjit Singh Channi as chief ministerial candidate?”
Within the Majha area, the epicentre of Panthic politics, one thing appears to have modified between February 6 and now. This was the day when Congress chief Rahul Gandhi introduced Dalit chief Charanjit Singh Channi because the chief ministerial candidate, sidelining one other contender, PCC chief and Jat Sikh chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. An unprecedented and daring transfer, contemplating that the state by no means had a non Jat Sikh chief minister within the final 5 many years.
As one travels throughout Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, and Pathankot, the 4 districts within the area, an undercurrent of “unease” with the choice emerges.
Within the 2017 polls, the Congress had swept by the area, successful 22 of the 25 seats. The SAD, in alliance with the BJP, was routed and will simply handle three seats, whereas the Aam Aadmi Get together (AAP) couldn’t open its rating. In 2007 and 2012, the SAD had managed to win emphatically within the area.
However this time, the robust Jat Sikh management within the area appears clearly upset. The well-known ‘Majha brigade’, which dominated the Captain Amarinder Singh cupboard comprising Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Fatehgarh Churian, Gurdaspur), Sukjinder Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur) and Sukhbinder Sarkaria (Raja Sansi, Amritsar), is conspicuous by its absence. The Jat Sikhs that represent 27 per cent of the voters really feel that the Congress has failed the neighborhood.
The Congress leaders within the area admit that the choice has put them on the again foot however keep a united facade. “The occasion thought of sure caste mixture whereas understanding a technique to win the elections. All of us should respect that and work collectively as a crew if we have now to win,’’ remarked Rajya Sabha MP and Congress candidate from Qadian constituency, Partap Bajwa.
So which political occasion does this assist?
“It (AAP) is an alternate however have a look at the best way they’ve chosen the candidates. They’ve put up weak candidates. I assume there focus is extra on Malwa and, like different events, AAP believes that the highway to romp dwelling in Punjab is thru Malwa and never Majha,’’ says Jagir Singh, a property supplier in Batala.
The announcement of the CM face by the Congress appears to have given SAD one thing to cheer about. With an offended Jat Sikh vote, the Akali Dal — which packages itself as a ‘Panthic occasion’ — hopes to encash politically. Additionally, the choice to area Bikram Majithia from Amritsar towards Sidhu is being seen as a daring transfer.
Fifty-year-old fabric service provider Tosha Singh, who runs a store within the neighborhood of the Golden temple, is impressed with the SAD choice to area Bikram Majithia towards Sidhu. “It’s a daring transfer. Majithia left the consolation zone of his constituency and determined to take Sidhu head-on which exhibits that Akalis are giving a battle.’’
Additionally, the SAD, sensing the temper on the bottom, went forward with the well timed sew of an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Get together. “They’ve additionally introduced a Dalit deputy CM,’’ says Jagrup, a Dalit villager in Hoshiarpur.
The BJP, which has been on the again foot over the farm legal guidelines, is hoping to money in on the Hindu votes in Gurdaspur and Pathankot. “The great governance mannequin of PM Modi is being accepted by the folks of Punjab,’’ says Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma.
Doaba – the Dalit heartland
On the Jalandhar railway station on the eve of the Guru Ravidas beginning anniversary, hundreds of devotees board a particular practice to Varanasi, the beginning place of the revered guru. Amongst them, the remark of a devotee Seth Mal maybe explains how important the Dalit vote is. “Particular trains by the Centre, state authorities pitching in with all the assistance and employees from all political events are floating round on the railway station to assist us. Makes us really feel vital because it’s election time.’’
Nearly 32 per cent of the overall Dalit votes within the state come from the Doaba area which is dotted with a plethora of massive and small deras. A cause why all eyes are on who these deras will assist instantly or not directly.
Punjab’s greatest dera of Ravidassias, probably the most vital Dalit communities (Channi belongs to the Ravidassia neighborhood), is within the Doaba area with headquarters in Jalandhar, the place the sect’s vital centre, Dera Sachkhand Ballan, is located. The dera has been witnessing politicians making a beeline from the time election dates had been declared.
Whereas CM Channi determined to spend the night time throughout his campaigns, leaders akin to Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, SAD chief Harsimrat Kaur Badal have all visited the dera.
Right here too an alliance with the BSP might give Akalis a bonus, although on the bottom, Channi because the CM face has given a a lot wanted push to the Congress marketing campaign.
However the occasion is dealing with anti-incumbency as nicely. The Dalit CM card has not made a lot of an affect within the area as voters are selecting improvement work and allocation of funds over the caste card. “The Congress has been in energy for the final four-and-a-half years, their MLAs have didn’t ship any of the guarantees on this area, so what’s the usage of altering a CM and persevering with with the identical candidates,’’ stated Paramvir Singh of Sansarpur village within the Jalandhar Cantonment space which is within the Doaba area.
The AAP made the Punjab Meeting election a triangular contest in 2017 after many years of a bipolar battle between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The farmers’ agitation towards the three central farm reform legal guidelines and riot of Navjot Singh Sidhu towards former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh within the Congress have turned the Punjab meeting election right into a multi-cornered, attention-grabbing battle this time round.