Panthic politics plays out in Punjab poll arena

At the entrance of Nijjar village in Khadoor Sahib Parliamentary constituency a large poster reads, “This village wholeheartedly supports Amritpal in the elections. Other parties should refrain from seeking votes here.”
Posters announcing support to  pro-Khalistani preacher and Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh.
Posters announcing support to pro-Khalistani preacher and Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh.

CHANDIGARH: The “Panthic” politics in Punjab appears to be on an unpredictable course. The pro-Khalistani preacher and Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh seems to be getting traction from the Kadoor Sahib Lok Sabha seat from where is contesting as an independent with a symbol mike.

At the entrance of Nijjar village in Khadoor Sahib Parliamentary constituency a large poster reads, “This village wholeheartedly supports Amritpal in the elections. Other parties should refrain from seeking votes here.”

This is not just one village this kind of posters have been put by the villagers after passing resolutions in panchayats in this constituency.

Amritpal, lodged in Dibrugarh Jail, under the NSA.

At the entrance of Nijjar or Ghurkwind or Jallupu-Khera village these kind of posters have been put up not only at the entrances but also in many houses. There many such villages in this rural seat.

While Amritpal is from Jallupur Khera village and thus posters and flags of other political parties are not visible. The villagers congregate in the home of Sukhchain Singh, uncle of Amritpal, as it serves as the election office. His parents are busy campaigning.

Sukhwinder Singh of Lakhna village says, “The posters have come up in many villages in which read that this time caste your vote in favor of Amritpal. I have travelled in 16-17 villages in my area where these posters and banners have been put up by the villagers. The posters have been put up with consensus as almost each village has passed resolution in the panchayat.”

“Yes posters have come up in our village also,’’ says Dilbagh Singh of Kacha-Pacca village. A police official said that such posters have been pasted in a few villages.

Amritpal’s father, Tarsem Singh, has said that his son is getting overwhelming support from people. “Those campaigning for my son will raise the issues of release of ‘Bandi Singhs’ (Sikh prisoners who have completed their terms) and the drug menace,’’ he said.

This seat has the highest number of Sikh voters, at 75.15%. The constituency came into being in 2008 and is spread across three regions—Malwa, Majha and Doaba—and is termed ‘Mini-Punjab’. It has nine assembly segments—Jandiala, Tarn Taran, Khem Karan, Patti, Khadoor Sahib, Baba Bakala, Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi and Zira. Seven assembly segments are held by the AAP while one each by the Congress and Independent.

Traditionally, voters here have voted more in favour of ‘panthic’ SAD candidates. It is a five-cornered contest. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SDA) has fielded former MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, while transport minister Laljit Singh Bhullar is the candidate of the AAP. The Congress and the BJP have nominated former MLA Kulbir Singh Zira and Manjit Singh Mianwind, respectively.

This time, former MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha is contesting on SAD (B) ticket, but with Amritpal contesting as an independent, he can make a dent in Valtoha’s vote bank. But Valtoha is putting up a stiff challenge, recounting his days of militancy and close association with Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

The other candidates are Laljit Bhullar of AAP, the state transport minister; Kuldeep Singh Zira of Congress; and Manjit Singh Manna of the BJP.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com