Cong smells a chance to wrest Panthic seat - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Cong smells a chance to wrest Panthic seat

Cong smells a chance to wrest Panthic seat

Jupinderjit Singh & Gurbax Puri

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13

Banking on the support of nine MLAs in as many Assembly segments comprising the Khadoor Sahib constituency, Congress’ Jasbir Singh Dimpa aims to achieve what no candidate of his party has been able to do since 1991 — wrest the Panthic seat from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

It is the first time that all MLAs in the constituency are from the Congress. The seat comprising Malwa, Majha and Doaba belts, campaigning is difficult owing to long distances with candidates having to criss-cross the Sutlej and Beas every now and then. Also, the issues in each area are different.

The constituency has elected a baptised Sikh since 1987. People here are highly sensitive about Sikh matters. Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra, the PDA candidate, whose candidature has attracted the interest of Sikhs abroad, is giving Dimpa a tough fight while battle-hardened Bibi Jagir Kaur of the SAD-BJP is fast catching up with the help of a committed party cadre and persistent campaigning by senior leaders, including SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bikram Majithia. AAP campaign this time is rather subdued.

Dimpa and his supporters, riding swanky cars, are trying hard to sell the development dream while Bibi Khalra is seeking votes on “Punjab’s unresolved issues”. Bibi Jagir Kaur’s campaign is about “Modi at the Centre” and Hindu-Sikh amity.

“Panthic seat, yes but I have won from Tarn Taran,  the heart of Khadoor Sahib despite being a Hindu,” says MLA Agnihotri as he joins Dimpa’s entourage at Tarn Taran’s bypass chowk on way to Mianwala near Baba Budda Sahib. An hour earlier, Dimpa has had lunch at Rana Gurjit’s house, who is certain of Congress’ victory. “It’s going to be a cakewalk,” he claims.

Speaking with The Tribune, Dimpa says he has big plans for the constituency. He intends to make it a tourist hub. “Tourists visiting Amritsar and the Wagah border would visit the Harike wetland and the Hussainiwala Retreat ceremony. There are so many orchards in this belt where tourist huts could be built. I also plan to develop a Golf Club along the Sutlej”, he says.

At Mianwala village, Dimpa promises bridge connectivity. He cautions people against Modi, who is “hell bent on throwing us into flames of war. If that happens, it is Punjab that will suffer, not those sitting in Delhi.” 

A win for Bibi Jagir Kaur would mean revival of her political fortunes. Having faced several controversies earlier, she is refraining from personal attacks. “I have never attacked my opponents, nor ever will,”, she tells The Tribune at Kapurthala as she takes stock of the day’s events and gains made so far. “People are giving me immense love. They know I stand for development and the Sikh tenets.”

In Wazirpur village, she raises the drugs issue, referring to fresh deaths owing to overdose. She talks about development ushered in by the SAD-BJP government during their tenure. “Modi will ensure peace and development,” she tells crowds. Dismissing the sacrilege issue, she claims: “People understand the politics behind it.” But Gurdev Singh of Chabal says the Akalis are certainly on the back foot on the issue. Ex-serviceman Manjit Singh Sidhu, a national-level shooter and AAP candidate, has a rough road ahead. The party has lost much of the support it once had in this constituency.

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