Known as the bastion of the BJP, Jalandhar Central constituency is up, to witness a close contest between sitting BJP MLA and one of the senior BJP leaders from Punjab, Manoranjan Kalia and Congress candidate Rajinder Beri.
Even though the contest appears to be between the BJP and the Congress, but the traditional parties are not taking AAP’s candidate and one of the leading ENT specialist of the city Dr Sanjeev Sharma lightly, as he can prove a dark-horse in the race towards the seat. Besides counting on the response from the first-time voters, the AAP seems to be eating into the votes cashing on anti-incumbency against the government that otherwise would have benefited the Congress in his absence.
Kalia, who represented this seat in 1997, 2007, had defeated Beri in 2012 polls with a margin of around 1,075 votes. His father, a five-time MLAs and former minister Manmohan Kalia, had also represented this segment thrice. While Kalia, a grass root leader, is seeking votes based upon the development works carried out during this as well as his last tenure he was minister for local bodies and industries, Beri, famous as ‘silent killer’ in the Congress circles owing to his man-to-man working and personal ties with the electorate, is depending heavily upon Kalia’s anti-incumbency.
A former councillor in the civic body, Beri knows where to hit hard. For the BJP candidate, hidden opposition within the party is one of the few challenge. As per sources many party candidates are working overnight to ensure Kalia’s defeat.
Kalia’s political enemy and former BJP leader Kishan Lal Sharma,has been opposing him tooth and nail during last year.Sharma who holds sway in the segment among Himachal background voters has been canvassing against Kalia. “There is nothing I worry about. I have worked tirelessly for the people of my area,’ said Kalia.
“Even though I was not a minister in last tenure, yet I managed to pump in maximum grants for the development.” said Kalia.The former minister still holds sway among the common masses even as the political pundits predicted him locked in the ‘toughest ever’ contest. Kalia had contested from this seat since 1992, and faced defeat twice. Beri on the other hand is fully sure to defeat his arch rival Kalia. “Kalia failed to bring even a single big project. He promised construction of Dhanowali under bridge but failed to start the work,” alleged Beri.“ Kalia has always sheltered goonda elements during this tenure and has been blatantly using police force to protect them,” alleged Beri.
The AAP candidate, however, is attacking both Kalia and Beri for ‘sheltering’ corruption in the civic body. “Both leaders are face of the same coin,” said AAp candidate Dr Sanjeev Sharma. “Kalia protects his men who sell drugs whereas Beri shelters Congress supporters who are making money from illegal activities including selling of kerosine oil in black market,” said the AAP candidate.