No cakewalk for Harsimrat - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

No cakewalk for Harsimrat

No cakewalk for Harsimrat

Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 17

After more than three weeks of hectic campaigning, it’s over to the voters in the high-profile Bathinda constituency where two-time MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal faces a stiff challenge from Congress’ Amrinder Singh Raja Warring. Punjab Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira, AAP’s Baljinder Kaur and SAD (Amritsar) candidate Gursewak Singh Jawaharke too are in the fray. 

Both Khaira and Baljinder are eying the vote bank of AAP, which won five of the total nine Assembly segments in the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat during the 2017 Assembly polls - Bathinda (Rural), Maur, Mansa, Budhlada and Talwandi Sabo. Lambi and Sardulgarh are with the SAD and Bathinda (Urban) with the Congress. Mansa MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia recently joined the Congress, while Maur MLA Jagdev Singh Kamalu is with Khaira. 

Both Congress and SAD pulled out all stops to cash in on AAP’s decline and consolidate their position in its five Assembly segments. Observers feel the other three players may dent the poll prospects of the SAD and Congress. Their contention is the Congress would have been the sole beneficiary of people’s anger against the SAD over the sacrilege issue, but for these candidates in the fray. Also, traditional Akali voters unhappy with the SAD have found an option in them. 

Apart from sacrilege, the other major issue dominating the political discourse here is ‘anti-incumbency’ against the state government. Harsimrat and Warring were in a slugfest over these issues all through their campaign. While Warring raked up the 10-year SAD-BJP “misrule” and sacrilege, Harsimrat countered him with 1984 and the Congress government’s alleged failure to deliver on its promises. 

Warring also tried to make it a “commoner versus mighty” fight, but Harsimrat aborted such attempts by projecting herself as “sewadar nimani” and reaching out to the voters like never before. In the urban seats of Bathinda (Urban) and Mansa, demonetisation and GST are the key issues at play and it would be a challenge for the SAD to turn the tables, considering the Congress had a lead of 30,000 votes and 24,000 votes, respectively, from these two Assembly segments in 2014.

Voters in Bathinda posed queries to the candidates regarding their performance in the past as well as unfulfilled promises. Harsimrat faced questions on sacrilege and some local issues, while people confronted Warring with Congress government’s failure to provide jobs. But the two key candidates rejected such instances as “stage-managed” by the other. 

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