SAD, Cong bank upon dera followers; face stiff competition from AAP in Maur | assembly-elections$punjab-2017 | Hindustan Times
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SAD, Cong bank upon dera followers; face stiff competition from AAP in Maur

assembly elections Updated: Jan 29, 2017 11:43 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Punjab polls

(clockwise from left) Janmeja Singh Sekhon (SAD), Harminder Singh Jassi (Congress) and Jagdev Singh Kamalu (AAP)(HT File Photos)

Dera Sacha Sauda holds the key in the Maur constituency as candidates of both the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress are largely banking upon the dera’s vote bank, which plays a crucial role in the Malwa region politics. The constituency has an influential population of dera followers.

This can be gauged from the fact that SAD candidate Janmeja Singh Sekhon has recently visited the dera headquarters in Sirsa, while the Congress has fielded Harminder Singh Jassi, a close relative of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

However, the AAP, which is posing a tough challenge to both the Congress and the SAD, has kept itself aloof from such politics so far and is yet to play cards to woo dera followers.

The dera’s political wing is holding meetings with its followers, it is yet to unfold their cards in favour of any party or a particular candidate.

It is going to be a tougher fight this time too for the SAD’s 72-year-old candidate Sekhon, who won by a narrow margin in 2012.

Sekhon, Punjab minister for the public works development (PWD), is facing stiff competition from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Congress’ Harminder Singh Jassi, for whom fighting rebellious voices is a challenge.

The AAP is leading a spirited campaign in the absence of a united Congress and anti-incumbancy against the SAD candidate.

In 2012, Sekhon managed to win by 1,387 votes in a neck to neck battle against Congress’ Mangat Ram Bansal. The Maur constituency was carved after delimitation in 2012.

Moreover, the emergence of the AAP in area and anti-incumbency wave against the SAD-BJP government has multiplied Sekhon’s worries.

Like chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sekhon is another senior Akali leader, who is facing protest in his constituency. He had recently faced public ire during campaigning at Rampura and Maisarkhana villages recently over poor development.

Will Rs 450-crore development play its part?

Sekhon claimed to carry development projects worth Rs 450 crore in the Maur assembly segment in the past five years of the SAD-BJP government. In September last year, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal laid the foundation stone of three major projects including the Maur-Talwandi railway overbridge worth Rs 70.8 crore, Bhai Bakhtaur railway overbridge worth Rs 33.5 crore and widening of the Rampura-Maur road worth Rs 84.4 crore. Besides it, Sekhon banks upon bringing sub-divisional magistrate’s office to Maur, improving water channel facilities and developing the link road network across his area. It’s Congress versus rebel Not only much delay in the announcement of Jassi’s candidature by the Congress, fighting out rebellious voices within the party, is one of the other major challenges for the Congress candidate.

Congress rebel Sukhraj Natt, who was one of the main ticket aspirants from the constituency, is contesting as an independent candidate.

The Congress could not ignore Natt’s factor as in 2007, he was the one, who spoiled the game for the Congress and has the potential to dent the Congress vote share this time too. Then, Natt had got 35,425 votes and stood second, while the Congress finished third with 22,105 votes only. The SAD’s Jagdeep Singh Nakai polled 39,747 votes.