While the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has been testing waters for it new leadership in Gidderbaha, the latter falls in the list of exceptional constituencies across the state where no candidate has been elected unopposed during the nomination round for the zila parishad and block samiti elections.
Majority of SAD candidates -- 30 in zila parishads and 229 in block samitis -- have won unopposed across the state, but none of them is from Gidderbaha as the candidates of the ruling party and Congress have been contesting all three zila parishad and 24 block samiti seats in the constituency.
“We want to test where we stand in the constituency. We do not want any allegations of winning elections by bullying methods. I want people to vote with honesty so that we (SAD) should know where we stand. I am sure that we will win all seats with thumping majority,” said Hardeep Singh Dimpi, newly-elected SAD halqa incharge, Gidderbaha.
“I invite media to cover the elections closely in Gidderbaha and want to make the claim that there would be no bullying to secure the victory for SAD,” said Dimpi.
SAD has given a ticket to a Dera Sacha Sauda follower, Lal Singh, who is also in 15-member district-level committee of dera followers, from the Kuani zila parishad zone.
Asked if this step has been taken to woo the dera followers, Dimpi said, “The dera followers always vote for good candidates. They do not sway for any particular party. There are clear instructions to the dera followers from the sect that they should vote, according to their conscience, for clean candidates.”
“We have given ticket to Lal Singh to avoid internal fight among different groups in the party. All groups agreed that Lal Singh would be a favourable candidate,” said Dimpi.
“All traditional Akalis have come together and it would not be difficult for us to win these elections,” said Dimpi, who was indicating at the divide created in the party workers in Gidderbaha after the departure of Manpreet Singh Badal, who nurtured the constituency for 16 years in a row before leaving the party in 2010.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Gidderbaha Amarinder Singh Raja Warring has been claiming to make a clean sweep. “SAD put all power but it failed to lure or terrorise a single Congress candidate from withdrawing nomination in Gidderbaha. Congress is very strong in the constituency and we will win all seats.”
He said, “SAD has been forcibly presenting 'siropas' (robes of honour) to people across the state, but Gidderbaha is a constituency where its leaders and workers have been joining Congress.”
“A panchayat member and SAD leader Bhag Singh of Harike Kalan village joined the Congress on Tuesday. Similarly, other SAD workers too have joined the Congress in the constituency and media reports from the region are evidence of that transformation,” claimed Raja.
He added that, “SAD has no leadership in Gidderbaha and it is still experimenting to find a leader. I am sure that they can adopt bullying tactics on the election day in desperation but Congress workers are ready to face everything to secure victory.”
SAD has won two zila parishad and eight block samiti seats unopposed in Muktsar district. Congress failed to give candidates in two block samiti seats in Muktsar constituency. Gidderbaha has, however, emerged as an exception.