As the cops conduct flag marches to instill a sense of confidence among the voters of this district headquarters town ahead of the February 25 municipal council (MC) elections, a poster war has broken out between the friends-turned-foes, that is the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), whose candidates are pitted against each other.
At the centre of this poster war is the February 10 clash between the activists of the BJP and SAD. Both the sides are accusing each other of lawlessness and making an appeal to the voters to weed out the ‘goonda’ (bad elements) from this town.
Photographs of the SAD-BJP clash figure prominently in the posters pasted by the BJP in every nook and corner of the town. On the poster is a photograph showing Raja (Rajesh) Joshi, brother of local bodies minister Anil Joshi, in a bent position, apparently falling to the ground after being pulled and pushed by SAD activists inside the office complex of the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) during the clash. Raja is the BJP candidate from Ward No 14.
The same poster has the photograph of Manoj Kumar, a SAD leader, in a threatening posture and with his mouth wide open, apparently exchanging words with the minister’s brother. Manoj Kumar is the Akali candidate pitted against the younger Joshi and was present at the spot of the clash.
“Do you want to vote for a person who threatens peace-loving people? Do you want to vote for those who are part of the land and drug mafia and are a constant threat to the peace and harmony of the town? Do you want goondaism to rule your town for the next five years,” these are the questions that have been put up in Punjabi to the voters in the BJP posters.
The posters also show an Akali activist wielding a pistol during the attack.
The second half of the poster contains the pictures of the Joshi brothers, with an appeal to vote for a well-educated and peace-loving person (Raja). It also has a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Akalis made a move only after seeing the BJP posters dot the town. They immediately swung into action and brought out postures in Punjabi targeting the elder Joshi.
The SAD posters have pictures of the May (last year) incident in which lawyer Vineet Mahajan was thrashed by miscreants in Amritsar. The Akalis have claimed that Joshi had a hand in the beating of the advocate as some of his supporters have been booked in that incident. Then there is the photograph of an injured Mahajan lying in hospital.
Ironically, Mahajan is a member of the Congress and he, along with his advocate friend Sandeep Gorsi, was responsible for highlighting the ‘dual votes’ case against Joshi and his family.
The two lawyers had demanded that the nomination papers of Raja Joshi should be rejected as he had filed a false affidavit before the returning officer at the time of filing of nominations for the MC polls. The affidavit related to the younger Joshi claiming that there was no case pending against him in any court of law in the country which, Mahajan claimed, was false.
The poster also showed two Akali leaders who, they claimed, sustained injuries in the February 10 clash after they were allegedly attacked by the younger Joshi and his supporters.
Incidentally, the Congress, which is contesting nine wards, has not yet brought out any poster and seems content at watching the electoral battle unfold.