RAHUL’S COMMON MEAL
In keeping with his style in UP, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and party candidate Vijay Inder Singla, ate with villagers at a community kitchen in Ballian, Sangrur, on the last day of campaigning. Rahul also tried to strike a chord with Dalits by citing caste atrocities as a major issue. Dressed in his signature blue denims, white kurta and a half-sleeved jacket, he first sat on a wooden cot, flanked by the village headman and council members, and interacted with the residents. He interacted with the women cooking the food, and then sat on the floor for the traditional meal from the sanjha chulha (common kitchen) put up by the villagers.
ROCKY’S SIS ON CAMPAIGN HIGH
Slain gangster Jaswinder Singh Rocky’s sister, Rajdeep Kaur, an independent candidate in Fazilka segment, took her vote appeal to a new high right before the conclusion of campaigning. Arguably the only candidate to do so for one constituency, she used a helicopter to crisscross the segment on Thursday. She’s clearly aiming at the aspirational voter that sees in her an alternative to the corrupt systems of welfare and justice, particularly in the border belt. Rocky, who finished a close second in 2012, ran a parallel system of ‘rajinama’ (compromise) and also distributed rations during floods. Rajdeep, a baptised Sikh who has a BA in Punjabi and history from Ludhiana’s Khalsa College, has been promising that she would continue to follow in his footsteps — her campaign posters say, ‘I am Rocky’ and carry the brother’s photos larger than hers. The chopper only adds to the aura. Where the money is coming from is anybody’s guess.
CAPTAIN OR CONGRESS?
The whole Congress campaign has been centred around Captain Amarinder Singh who is now also the party’s CM candidate. Their catchphrase is: “Chaunda hai Punjab, Captain di sarkaar” (Punjab wants Captain’s government). However not all are going with the same slogan. For instance, Rakesh Pandey, the party candidate from Ludhiana North, has replaced the word ‘Captain’ with ‘Congress’ on his posters. Obviously, this caused some murmurs in the area.
THINGS CONGRESS CANDIDATES SAY!
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh pulled off a quid pro quo of sorts when he was able to ask Sanaur MLA Lal Singh to hand his seat to Harry Mann, who is now the candidate from Sanaur, after Lal Singh’s son was given Samana. At Amarinder’s rally at Sanaur on Wednesday, Lal Singh was missing and Harry Mann appealed to Captain to take special care of his seat when he comes to power. “It is one of the most backward seats in Punjab and has seen no development,” Mann told the crowds. Wonder what Lal Singh, who has won the seat many times, would say to that!
STITCHING UP VOTES?
In Samana, among freebies allegedly meant for distribution among voters, on Thursday the district administration seized 47 sewing machines from Kulburchan village, 30 km from the main town. Villageres who did not want to named tied the machines with the Akali candidate’s attempts to stitch together some votes. Found at the house of a man named Tej Singh, 20 machines were stored in a bedroom, while 27 others were in a storeroom. No arrest was made. Amreshwar Singh, returning officer (RO), said, “The owner of the house was not present and his wife failed to present any document related to the purchase of the machines.” Meanwhile, The Samana police seized 42 boxes of illegal liquor from two places. Two men were arrested.
(By Aarish Chhabra, Vishal Rambani, Arvind Chhabra, Sukhdeep Kaur and Harinder Singh Khaira)