The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) once had a strong grip on Gidderbaha, but it’s now a Congress fortress. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also made its presence felt in this rural segment in Muktsar district.
The SAD won nine consecutive times, from 1969 to 2007, before it lost to the Congress in 2012, when Amrinder Singh Raja Warring registered his first win. Warring, who is now the national president of Youth Congress, is once again the party’s choice, while the Akali Dal has fielded first-timer Hardeep Singh Dimpy Dhillon, owner of New Deep bus transport company. However, AAP’s 37-year-old candidate, Jagdeep Singh Sandhu, is giving tough challenge to both. While the Congress and AAP are running spirited campaigns, the anti-incumbency wave against the SADBJP alliance is a cause of worry for Akali Dal.
Gidderbaha remained a political base for chief minister Parkash Singh Badal as he was elected five times from 1969 to 1985 from here, before he shifted base to Lambi in 1997.
Even the CM’s nephew and now Congress leader Manpreet Singh Badal, during his stint in the SAD, established himself as a leader from this constituency by winning four back-to-back elections till 2007, including the 1995 bypoll. It was only after Manpreet parted ways with the SAD in 2011 that the party lost ground here. In 2012, Raja Warring by 13,652 votes. Manpreet was also among the losers. Manpreet’s entry into the Congress has now come as a shot in the arm for the party here in particular. He had got 31,906 votes as a candidate of his People’s Party of Punjab in 2012. Manpreet, who is Congress candidate from Bathinda Urban, and Warring have started jointly canvassing in Gidderbaha.
Warring didn’t do much from the development standpoint, but he consistently raised issues related to farmers’ protest over cotton crop failure and delay in lifting of paddy or the alleged illegal FIRs on Congress workers.
Meanwhile, AAP candidate Sandhu is nurturing Gidderbaha for over the past one year. His candidature was declared on October 8, following which he and his young brigade started campaigning. Sandhu, whose wife is sarpanch of Fattanwala village, was once a close aide of SAD leader Kanwarjit Singh ‘Rozy Barkandi’ but joined the AAP two years ago. He was famous for carrying out social services activities, including arranging mass marriage events of poor girls.
However, for SAD’s Dhillon, who is a protégé of deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, his transport company has also led to controversies due to accident caused by rash driving. On December 13 last, a 13-year-old girl Arshdeep Kaur, of Channu village in Muktsar district, was crushed to death by a bus owned by the SAD candidate. In another such incident five days after that, Gurpreet Kaur, 11, of Dyalpura village in Tarn Taran, was killed in a road accident of another bus of his company.