Congress battles infighting in Batala - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Congress battles infighting in Batala

Congress battles infighting in Batala

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Batala, March 28

If the Congress views the Dera Baba Nanak Assembly seat as a goldmine keeping in view the vote-spinning Kartarpur corridor, the Batala seat may turn out to be its Achilles heel. This is because its candidate will not only have to appease the powerful industrial lobby, which is fighting to get the Freight Equalisation Policy (FEP) reintroduced by the Railways, but also have to end the infighting plaguing senior leaders.

The FEP was adopted by the Central government in 1952 to facilitate the equal growth of industry throughout the country. This meant a factory could be set up anywhere in India and the transportation of minerals was to be subsidised by the Central government. However, it was withdrawn in 1993.

Batala industrialists want the policy to be reintroduced. MP Jakhar, whose candidature has almost been cleared, has taken up the issue with the Railway Ministry on several occasions but without any success. Sources reveal the Railways do not want to reintroduce it as several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, are bound to suffer.

“The industrial lobby can influence, on a conservative estimate, at least 30,000 votes. Reason enough why Jakhar wants to get the FEP back,” said a leader.

The MP says that in order to neutralise the FEP effect he will seek a special package for industries located in the border areas, including Batala, if he is re-elected.

The party candidate will also have to put an end to the infighting among two senior leaders. Former three-time MLA Ashwani Sekhri complains that Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa is “interfering in the political and administrative affairs of the seat.” Bajwa, who is MLA from the neighbouring seat of Fatehgarh Churian, dismisses these allegations saying “they are nothing but a figment of Sekhri’s imagination”.

“Whatever developmental works I am initiating are being done in my capacity as a minister. I have absolutely no interest in the seat,” said Bajwa.

Jakhar will have to do a delicate political balancing act with both Sekhri and Bajwa as he cannot afford to lose the support of either of them.

The MP is also pondering over the demand of Bajwa to shift the bus stand to the outskirts because of the traffic snarls that occur at the present location. However, Sekhri is dead against it claiming that hundreds of shopkeepers will lose their livelihood.

For the voters, shifting of the bus stand and the rehri market to the Maal Mandi are two major demands.

Jakhar says he has fulfilled a major demand by upgrading the status of the municipal committee to a corporation. “Budgetary allocation will now increase substantially following which more developmental works can be taken up,” he said.

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