Majha region may weigh down Akali Dal. But who stands to gain? | assembly-elections$punjab-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Majha region may weigh down Akali Dal. But who stands to gain?

That’s the signal emanating from Majha—sandwiched between Ravi and Beas rivers—as Punjab votes to decide its next government on ‘scary’ Saturday. The region comprising four districts, from Pathankot to Tarn Taran and in between Gurdaspur and Amritsar, has 25 assembly seats and there are 252 candidates in the fray.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 03, 2017 22:46 IST
Pawan Sharma
Poll officials all set with equipment in Amritsar on Friday, February 3.
Poll officials all set with equipment in Amritsar on Friday, February 3.(Gurpreet Singh/HT)

Don’t be shocked if the ‘Majhails’ (people belonging to the Majha region), otherwise (in)famous for their rough and always ready-to-fight persona, silently give a bleeding blow to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday.

That’s the signal emanating from Majha—sandwiched between Ravi and Beas rivers—as Punjab votes to decide its next government on ‘scary’ Saturday. The region comprising four districts, from Pathankot to Tarn Taran and in between Gurdaspur and Amritsar, has 25 assembly seats and there are 252 candidates in the fray.

Majha will matter the most for the SAD that is saddled with 10 years of anti-incumbency, coupled with uprising of sorts in its citadel, the Malwa.

Also read | AAP, Congress are in for a rude shock, SAD will do better than 2012: CM Parkash Singh Badal

But the danger is not from the ‘broom’ of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The challenge to the ‘scale’ is from the ‘hand’ of the Congress that has waged a ‘now-or-never’ battle to dislodge the SAD.

The glimmer of hope for the SAD is in its alliance partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that contests eight seats—four in Amritsar, one in Gurdaspur and all three in Pathankot.

In the 2012 slugfest, the BJP had won five seats, SAD 11 and Congress 9.

And in February 2007 assembly polls, the BJP had surprised its critics by bagging seven seats, while SAD had won 17 and the Congress, in power then, was nearly routed with only three seats in its kitty.

Now, political analysts are sensing a perceptible pro-Congress edge in this border belt of Punjab and steep road ahead for the SAD-BJP, which may struggle to reach the double digit in Majha.

This despite the region being represented by four ministers in the Parkash Singh Badal government, infrastructure development and giving a dramatic facelift to the holy city Amritsar—the fountainhead of the Sikh faith.

In Pathankot, the BJP is expected to perform better, while in Gurdaspur Congress and AAP may pull out some stunning victories, dashing hopes of the SAD.

Also, in Amritsar, barring seats being contested by Bikram Singh Majithia and Anil Joshi, the voters’ mood is giving anxious moments to the SAD-BJP.

Clearly, it looks like an advantage to the Congress in Majha. That’s why Majha will hold the key given the plight of both the SAD and Congress in Malwa.