With senior Congress leader and former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh coming into the poll fray against BJP leader and the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, the focus of a keenly watched contest has shifted from Bathinda to Amritsar.
Earlier, the Bathinda constituency, where chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s bahu Harsimrat Kaur Badal, is pitted against one of her kin PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal, was the centre of interest for the people, but now the Amritsar contest has changed the scenario to some extent.
However, stakes are still very high for the Badal family here. That it is a question of ‘do-or-die’ for them is clear from the fact that both chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have been virtually camping in the constituency right from the beginning of 2014 to ensure the victory of Harsimrat.
The Badals have also nurtured the constituency very well. A lion’s share of government schemes such as allotment of tubewell connections and blue cards under the atta-dal scheme has come to the constituency.
Besides, the nine assembly segments under the constituency have also remained the focus of ‘sangat darshan’ programmes of both chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir
Many of senior SAD leaders had camped in Bathinda in 2009 elections also. Youth Akali Dal (YAD) president and Punjab revenue minister, who is also Harsimrat’s brother, Bikram Singh Majithia had stayed put in the constituency throughout the whole campaign.
But, this time, he visited the constituency only twice after the announcement of elections. Perhaps, his role is being considered crucial in the campaigning for Jaitley in Amritsar. It is unlikely that he will be able to spare that much time for Bathinda this time.
Though, both CM and deputy CM are spending as much time here as they can, yet it will be worth watching if they will be able to do so in the coming days when many SAD candidates are involved in a fierce poll battle with senior Congress leaders. The CM had also campaigned extensively for Harsimrat during 2009 elections.
The constituency became a centre of attraction after it became clear that estranged nephew of chief minister and chief of PPP chief Manpreet Badal would contest the election from here, but the contest became more interesting for poll-watchers after Manpreet declared himself as a joint PPPCongress candidate.
However, Congress sprang up surprises by fielding senior leaders including Amarinder Singh from Amritsar, Sunil Jakhar from Ferozepur and Ambika Soni from Anandpur Sahib, and that changed the poll scenario.