July 21, 2024

Punjab

Punjab CM’s mettle at stake in Jalandhar (West) bypoll

Kaumimarg Bureau / IANS | July 09, 2024 06:55 PM

Jalandhar It is a multi-cornered battle among state ruling AAP, the BJP and the Congress in the Jalandhar West (reserved) Assembly segment where Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s mettle is at stake.

The Jalandhar West (reserved) Assembly segment is a hub of Dalits in Punjab’s Doaba region.

While the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded BJP rebel Mohinder Bhagat as its candidate, the BJP pitted former AAP MLA Sheetal Angural as its nominee.

Bhagat, who left the BJP and joined the AAP in April 2023, is the son of a three-time MLA from this segment of the BJP and served as Cabinet minister from 2007-2017.

The Congress’ nominee is Surinder Kaur, the former senior Deputy Mayor and five-time councillor of Jalandhar, and the party believes her social work will ensure her resounding victory. She is known for her proximity to the Dera Sachakhand Ballan, a key Ravidassia community sect in the region.

The Shiromani Akali Dal has extended support to Bahujan Samaj Party nominee Binder Kumar.

The caste factor has played a key role in this seat that is known worldwide for manufacturing sports goods.

Congress’ candidate is a prominent Dalit leader of the Ravidassia community, while AAP’s candidate Bhagat belongs to the Kabir Bhagat community which has 30, 000 voters. The latter had unsuccessfully contested this seat in the 2017 and 2022 assembly elections on BJP tickets.

By fielding Bhagat, AAP is looking to woo 30, 000 Bhagat community voters.

BJP’s Angural, a young firebrand leader, is banking upon the Sialkotia Ravidassia community, which also has a considerable vote share.

A total, of 15 candidates are in the fray from Jalandhar (West), once a hub of leather tanneries, with a total of 1.72 lakh voters. The counting of ballots is on July 13.

The bye-election was necessitated following the resignation of Sheetal Angural as an AAP legislator.

Sheetal Angural, who had joined the BJP on March 27 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, had defeated then Congress candidate Sushil Kumar Rinku by 4, 253 votes.

Mann, who hired a rented a house in Jalandhar to establish a direct link with electorates and campaigned aggressively, on Monday indicated minister's post for the AAP candidate if he wins the Jalandhar (West) bypoll.

Attacking the Congress, the Akali Dal and the BJP, he said, “God does everything for the betterment of the people, that's why a corrupt person resigned on his own and now Jalandhar will get an honest MLA.”

“Mohinder Bhagat is a ‘bhagat’ by nature too, he is an honest and sincere leader.”

Noting party chief Arvind Kejriwal “is in the jail under a false case”, he said: “Let's win this election for him and give him something to smile about while he is in jail fighting against the dictators.”

Congress during the campaign targeted the turncoats.

Ludhiana MP Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, said: “The people of Punjab have already shown the door to the turncoats in the Lok Sabha elections. A similar mandate is set to happen soon in Jalandhar (West). The people will vote for Punjab and its growth and prosperity and will hence vote for Surinder Kaur.”

In the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, Congress’ Charanjit Singh Channi defeated BJP’s Sushil Kumar Rinku from Jalandhar by a record margin of 1.75 lakh votes.

In a humiliating defeat to the AAP government two years after its landslide victory in the state, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and party's national convener, Arvind Kejriwal, had set an ambitious target of winning all 13 Lok Sabha seats and won just three seats, with four of five cabinet ministers failing to secure victories.

However, AAP improved its 2019 performance when it managed to win a lone seat.

Instead, the main Opposition Congress, which was at the helm between 2017 and 2022, won seven parliamentary seats, while Independents won two and the Shiromani Akali Dal won one seat.

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