In this flood-prone constituency, the major candidates know that they don't have any solution to the Ghaggar river's seasonal fury. Hence, they are focusing on basic amenities and other day-to-day issues.|
Personal contact with voters is the key for Congress candidate Lal Singh as well as Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) nominee Tejinder Singh Sandhu. Both candidates are out to strengthen their ties with influential persons who have their own vote banks.
Former minister and Congress heavyweight Lal Singh is contesting for the record eighth time from this constituency. Prior to delimitation, it was known as Dakala, a seat he represented five times.
Sandhu, former chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Service Selection Board, is the son of late Jasdev Singh Sandhu, a five-time MLA who represented Dakala as well as neighbouring Ghanaur twice each. A total of 48 villages of Ghanaur became part of Sanaur after delimitation.
"No one can solve the Ghaggar problem. So, it is better to seek the resolution of personal issues," said Joginder Singh of Aliwal, who approached Lal Singh and was asked to wait till the new government took over. Similarly, people are apprising Sandhu of their issues, and he is also asking them to wait for a couple of months.
Lal Singh has managed to retain his vote bank for 35 years without bringing any major project to the constituency. His old links in the area and proximity to Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh have been paying dividends.
Addressing residents of Upali village, Lal Singh says, "Had I not done anything for the area, you would not have allowed me to enter the village. In 1977, when I contested for the first time, I had only one supporter here. Now, almost the whole village is with me."
Taking a dig at the SAD, he says, "Several people (Akali candidates) have come, but no one remained in touch with you. Whether I won or lost, I have never left the area."
Incidentally, no SAD candidate has faced Lal Singh twice, barring Harmel Singh Tohra. The latter is contesting from Patiala Rural this time.
"Tussi jande ho ke Captain Sahib tan CM honge, atey tuhada das CM to kuch ghat nahin howega, so sarkar chalaun layee vote Congress nu pao. (You know that the Captain would become the CM and I would be nothing less than the CM. So, vote for the Congress so that we can run the government," Lal Singh tells the gathering.
Seated in a Chevrolet SUV, Lal Singh stops the vehicle wherever he spots a crowd. He interacts with people for a short time and then moves on. Again, the issues are personal, not political.
Akali candidate Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu was keen to contest from Ghanaur, but got the Sanaur ticket. He is also banking on personal contacts to woo voters.
"You people know my family since the 1950s. My father (Jasdev Singh Sandhu) represented and served you. We have been in touch even after his death. Now, I am at your doorstep as the SAD nominee. I seek a chance to serve you. Lal Singh has failed to resolve your problems or bring the industry. So, throw him out and elect me," he says.
"I have proposed a technical survey of the area to find a permanent way to tame the Ghaggar," Sandhu adds.
There are about 35,000 voters from the 48 villages which were transferred from Ghanaur to Sanaur. The Congress may struggle to get a majority of these votes as Sandhu had been busy strengthening his base in Ghanaur in an effort to get the ticket from there.