Going by the adage that ‘the early bird caches the worm’, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders have started canvassing in their respective assembly segments in Gurdaspur district, a development that has unnerved their political opponents.
Though the party has yet to officially announce its nominees, some leaders, claiming to have the support of the top party leadership, have unofficially started campaigning. This has forced all the five sitting Congress legislators of the district and the lone SAD legislator to draw up elaborate strategies to counter the AAP onslaught.
The Gurdaspur parliamentary seat comprises nine Vidhan Sabha seats, out of which three fall in the neighbouring Pathankot district, while six are in Gurdaspur district.
In Dera Baba Nanak, from where senior Congress leader and PPCC vice-president Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa is the sitting Congress MLA, former Punjab Labourfed chairman GS Kushalpur, who claims to have the support of senior Delhi-based leadership, hits the road in the wee hours every day.
He is a former loyalist of SAD leader Ranjeet Singh Brahmpura. The SAD is nurturing Sonu Langah, son of SS Langah, from this seat and Kushalpur’s early morning forays into villages are giving jitters to the Langah family.
In the neighbouring constituency of Fatehgarh Churian, from where former speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon’s son Ravi Karan Kahlon has been designated as the heir apparent, Gurinder Singh Shampura, a two-time SGPC member, who was officially declared as an AAP candidate had already held a few rallies in the constituency. This has raised concern for the Kahlon kin and sitting Congress legislator TPS Bajwa.
Likewise, comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi, who was given the charge of the Punjab AAP convener a few days ago, is doing rounds in Batala, considered to be a BJP stronghold. There are nearly a dozen other leaders in the fray, but Ghuggi has already taken the lead by addressing a rally in the company of Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann. During the rally, senior leaders had asked party workers to “listen to Ghuggi and ensure that he is comfortably placed.” This indication was enough for Ghuggi’s opponents to develop cold feet.
Former SAD leader Capt Balbir Singh Baath, who recently joined the AAP, is eyeing the Qadian seat while in Dinanagar, Joginder Singh Chinna, has already started his campaign.
A majority of opponents of the AAP are likely to start campaigning just three months before the elections, but now they have already started devising ways and means to counter their rivals.