The Doaba region is famous for two factors — NRI hub and Dalit predominance. Traditional political families representing Dalits from the region had such a clout in Punjab politics over the years that the cabinet looked incomplete without them.
But time has taken a turn this time as voters have rejected families ruling the Dalit politics in Doaba for decades. And in all probabilities, no Dalit MLA from Doaba is likely to get a berth in the new cabinet to be led by Captain Amarinder Singh, who will take the oath as the chief minister on March 16.
Former Punjab Congress chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee lost from the Adampur assembly seat to Shiromani Akali Dal’s Pawan Kumar Tinu. He was also defeated in 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Hoshiarpur, and with back-to-back defeats, his political career looks uncertainty.
A former minister and ex-MP, Kaypee, 61, carries the political legacy of his father Darshan Singh Kaypee, former minister and a five-time MLA from Jalandhar.
Former Punjab Youth Congress president Vikramjit Chaudhary, a Dalit leader from Doaba’s powerful Chaudhary clan and son of Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary was also defeated in the recently held assembly polls. He lost to Akali greenhorn Baldev Khaira from Phillaur in a four-cornered contest.
It was Vikramjit’s grandfather late Master Gurbanta Singh, revered as ‘Dalit icon’ of Punjab, who laid the political foundation of the Chaudhary family. Vikramjit failed to break the jinx of the Chaudhary family losing the Phillaur seat in the past three assembly polls. Before becoming MP in 2012, Vikramjit’s father also lost the seat in 2012 and 2007.
However, Vikramjit’s cousin and former minister late Chaudhary Jagjit Singh’s son Surinder Chaudhary managed to win the Kartarpur seat. But he is a low-profile leader and it would take a few more wins for him to establish himself as a prominent Dalit leader.
Another dalit leader from Doaba, Tirlochan Singh Soondh, who contested the assembly elections as a Congress rebel, even lost his deposit from Banga. Five-time Akali MLA Sarwan Singh Phillaur also faced defeat. His father late Jagat Ram Soondh was a four-time MLA.
In Phagwara, former minister and senior Congress leader Joginder Mann lost polls to BJP’s Som Parkash. Of the seven seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the Doaba region, the Congress could win only three.