In the erstwhile royal estate of Nabha, a total of eight candidates are battling for this reserve seat in 2017 Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. Interestingly, candidates of major political parties Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are all from outside the constituency.
Congress has fielded sitting MLA Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, who actually belongs to Amloh, while SAD’s candidate Kabir Dass is from Patiala Urban, and AAP’s candidate Gurdev Singh Mann is from Sanaur.
DERA SACH KHAND BALLAN’S POINT MANKABIR DASS
About three months ago, SAD’s Kabir Dass, party’s new Dalit face and Dera Sach Khand Ballan’s key man, was vying for Congress’ ticket from Shutrana. Failing to get response, he switched over to SAD, where party president Sukhbir Badal, after confirming his association with the Dera, not only gave him election ticket for Nabha seat, but also gave him tickets for Kartarpur and Bathinda Rural constituencies.
In his short stint as ‘halqa incharge’ (assembly in-charge) of Nabha for nearly 21 days before code of conduct was imposed, Sukhbir and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, doled out Rs 25 crore through Dass, to consolidate party’s position in Nabha, where SAD has last tasted victory in 1997. The plus point for Dass is that SAD factions are unitedly backing him.
In the caste calculation, SAD gave ticket to Dass as he is from Ravidassia community, which dominates the area, while Sadhu Singh Dharamsot is a Bazigar community leader, which has less presence in Nabha constituency. Dev Mann is also from Ravidassia community.
While campaigning, Dass is promising development in Nabha, by reiterating the fact that in 21 days he had started working as assembly incharge, he got Rs 25 core for the segment and so if gets elected to state’s assembly he would be able to spend Rs 300 crore in next five years.
DHARAMSOT-BANKING ON CONGRESS’ SUPPORT
However, being a seasoned leader Sadhu Dharamsot is well connected in the area and a prominent vote swinger. He is banking on his personnel connection and Congress’s strong hold in the constituency, which has been sending a Congress MLA since 2002.
“SAD-BJP alliance is not going to come back. And in Congress government, I will surely become senior minister and will provide ample funds for development in Nabha and bring industries,” he says.
MANN- VOTE FOR ‘CHANGE IN PUNJAB’
And for AAP, Dev Mann is selling the brand Kejriwal and asking public to vote for a ‘change in Punjab’. He is hopeful as in 2014 Lok Sabha elections this assembly segment had given a nearly 15,000 votes lead to the now suspended AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, who has now floated his own party.
“Its pro-AAP wave in Punjab and people are waiting to teach Akalis and Congress, a lesson on February 4 by voting for AAP for a corruption free Punjab”, he said. He draws maximum attention in the rural areas, whereas in city he is getting a lukewarm response. However, the young voters are giving sleepless nights to SAD and Congress.
Lack of infrastructure, development, sewerage up-gradation, development of outer colonies are the main issues in the city, while stray animals are a major problem in rural areas, apart from funds for development. In this tight fight for this schedule caste reserve seat, the urban voters especially the Hindu and business community will be deciding factor.