Punjab polls: Sajjan cites Stalin’s regime to decry Badal, Captain in Kapurthala district | assembly-elections$punjab-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Punjab polls: Sajjan cites Stalin’s regime to decry Badal, Captain in Kapurthala district

At Muradpur village in Sultanpur Lodhi constituency in Kapurthala district, a reference to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin comes in. Former Indian basketball captain Sajjan Singh Cheema, the AAP candidate, is trying to connect with the people by equating chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh with Stalin.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 01, 2017 11:25 IST
Saurabh Duggal
AAP’s Sajjan Singh Cheema addressing a public meeting in Sultanpur Lodhi.
AAP’s Sajjan Singh Cheema addressing a public meeting in Sultanpur Lodhi.(Anil Dayal/HT Photo)

At Muradpur village in Sultanpur Lodhi constituency in Kapurthala district, a reference to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin comes in. Former Indian basketball captain Sajjan Singh Cheema, the AAP candidate, is trying to connect with the people by equating chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh with Stalin.

“Once, somebody in Stalin’s cabinet asked him what his key of ruling the people was. His reply was that the best way to handle people is to treat them like chickens. Take away everything they have by plucking all their feathers, and then throw them a few bread crumbs. They will then follow you forever. In the same manner, both Badal and Amarinder have treated the people of Punjab by offering them subsides,” says Cheema, who retired as superintendent of police. “Now the choice is yours, whether you want to be treated as chickens or live with dignity.”

He clarifies, “Our party is not against subsides, but before that the duty of a government is to give its people better education and ample opportunities to be self-dependent.”

KEJRI CARD

Knowing he is new in the political arena, Cheema is moving with the “AAP wave” and banking heavily on Arvind Kejriwal’s charisma. In his public gathering, he stresses more on the development work that AAP is doing in Delhi.

“In the name of Kejriwal, vote for hope. You know about the development work which is taking place in Delhi, and we will adopt the same model,” he says.

Sultanpur Lodhi is a rural constituency with over 200 villages and a town, besides the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) colony.

“In the previous Lok Sabha elections (2014), we hardly campaigned in the RCF, but we got the maximum vote share from there. The reason is simple — an educated person understands the values and mission of AAP. That’s why the successive governments in the state never made an effort to improve the education system in rural areas, so that they can befool the people easily in the name of religion or subsidies every time during elections and rule them for ages,” he argues.

NRI BRIGADE

The maximum emigration from Punjab to Europe and North America has taken place from the Doaba region and Cheema is banking heavily on NRIs. “We have around 8,000 NRIs from Sultanpur Lodhi area who are settled overseas. Most of them are actively supporting AAP. Around 200 of our supporters have specially flown to campaign for the party and those who couldn’t come are regularly making calls to their local villagers to seek votes for AAP,” says Cheema, who had to face a strong opposition from the party’s local workers when his candidature was announced.

“Once the candidature was announced all the volunteers decided to work for the party. Here it is not the question of Sajjan Singh Cheema, we are working for Kejriwal and want to contribute in the revolution started by him,” he says. Cheema is pitted against Congress MLA Navtej Cheema and former Akali minister Upinderjit Kaur.

The opponents are alleging that he made money in his job in the Punjab police. “Opposition is making false allegations that I have made property worth crores. But I am ready to give them the power of attorney; if they find anything apart from my house and three acres of land, they can take it all.”