You see the Congress flags and posters of Capt Amarinder Singh only on the party office as you enter Majitha. In the wards and hamlets of the constituency which has itself earned notoriety for being the undisputed kingdom of Punjab’s firebrand revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the Congress is heard only in whispers and its posters and flags are few to none.
From Pandori village to Umarpura, the last before Gurdaspur starts, most credit Majithia for things other assembly constituencies only dream of — good roads, almost 24-hour power supply to reap a golden harvest and timely pensions. Those who blame him for “ruling by parcha raj (police cases), failing to create jobs and check drug abuse”, do so in murmurs.
“Mantrisade bade kam sawarda ae. Ethe tey Congressi taawe taawe disde ne. Aape hi Congressi poster nai laan aaye (Majithia fulfils all our demands. Congressmen have become rare.
They themselves did not come to put up their posters),” says 70-year-old Jagir Singh, a farmer of Majitha village, pointing to the new power transformer that is installed at the entry to Majitha village. The ward has a Akali pardhan since the past seven years and the former Congress pardhan, too, has now joined the Akalis, he adds.
The connect of most people to the minister is through pardhans of wards and village sarpanches.
Sitting on the chowk at Bhoma village near a canal, a fruit-seller, Sucha Singh, is using his marketing skills to seek votes for the BJP, at the sarpanch’s behest.
“Asi Amarinder ya Jaitley (BJP candidate) nu nai, asitaan apne sarpanch nu vote pauni ae (We have to vote not for Jaitley or Amarinder but our sarpanch), ” he says to his customers. Among the many riches of the village, he counts the free-flowing liquor that devotees offer at a nearby shrine and water and power in wheat fields.
But few mur mur that it is not all one way. “Andar khathe toh, batheriyan votan dujiya nu
wi pe janiya (many will vote silently for other parties too),” says retired PWD employee Jagir Singh.
The fruit-seller’s arguments fail to convince 21-year-old Lakhwinder Singh, who says he was forced to do farming after higher secondary as “there are few government jobs and they go to a chosen few.”
The employees who get jobs claim they have not been regularised for more than a decade. “It’s been 18 years since I have been working in the forest department. Yet I have not been regularised and survive on daily wages,” says Sukhwinder Singh.
A motorcyclist who stops by to catch the conversation says berozgari (unemployment) is the biggest poll issue. “There are vacancies in government departments but no money to fill them. Idleness is driving youth to drugs. Jera bhukha maran daya, oh achhiyan roada pa ke ki karega (the one who is dying of poverty does not need good roads),” he says.
HIGHWAY SPRUCED UP, LINK ROADS POT-HOLED
While the main highway is all spruced up, the link roads are pot-holed. Travelling down from Buddha The village to Jije Ani, Gosar and Umarpura, the talk of drug abuse gets louder. “Bathere nashe karan wale ne pind wich (there are many who do drugs).
We do not know where it comes from. Jinha de utte vadiyan da hath ae, ohi nasha da vyapar kar sakde ne (those who are powerful can only run this trade),” says a woman in Buddha The village.
In Umarpura, Suba Singh, a far mer, says he has sent his sons to Delhi to work. “It is better to send them away — they get jobs and they do not get spoiled,” he adds.
‘DON’T WAVE OUR FLAGS, DON’T PUT OUR POSTERS’
The Congress reasons that it has no flags and posters in Majitha as it is eyeing the silent vote.
“What is the point of putting our flags outside someone’s house who may be then left running from police stations to courts after being slapped with police cases. The political vendetta cases against Congress workers are highest in Majithia.
We have told them: ‘Don’t wave our flags, don’t put our posters.’ If you want to get rid of fear, vote for us silently, ” says Malwinder Singh, Amarinder’s younger brother, who is over seeing Majitha assembly segment.