The Opposition, Congress, enters into thinking mode following the second consecutive visit of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to the city in the span of just three days to take stock of the preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The SAD - which is divided in many factions in Ludhiana, has not been showing any sign of preparedness for the general elections so far, and it is the Congress, which has acquired a proactive role by organising dharnas on different social issues in the city.
However, Sukhbir's message to some of the senior party leaders of the district on Friday that the party's candidate for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat would be a "surprise", had created flutter in the district Congress and compelled the party's cadre, especially Ludhiana MP and union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari's poll strategists, to tread cautiously and keep guessing.
During his visit to the city on Wednesday and Friday, the deputy CM's move to conduct visits to various development project sites; carrying out meetings with officials; and setting deadlines for multi-crore 'Mission Ludhiana' project - to express his concern and seriousness towards the city residents' necessities - had added to the worries of the Opposition.
Perhaps, this could be one of the reasons that why Tewari had also decided to galvanise his 'mass contact programme' in rural areas falling under his constituency. Tewari has charted out an intensive tour plan, under which he will be attending 18 mass contact programmes in 18 villages of Jagraon and Sidhwan Bet areas on Sunday and Monday.
In future too, according to one of the key aides of Tewari and chief of the district Congress (urban) Pawan Dewan, the minister will now spend more than two days each week in Ludhiana now. "Tewari's decision did not come in the backdrop of Sukhbir's recent visit to the city, but to reach out to more and more people in his constituency.
"Undoubtedly, as a politician we have to keep a close tab on the moves of opponents, but Sukhbir's announcements had hardly raised any concern, as people knew that he was famous for making announcements only."
However, a Congress MLA, having allegiance to Tewari' rival camp, admitted that the way Sukhbir spent two days in Ludhiana in holding secret meetings; breaking away Congress' cadres; and by bringing some of the industrialists and a faction of the youth Congress leaders in SAD's fold should be viewed seriously.
"It's a call that Tewari has to take, he is wise enough. Spending time in Delhi can bag an MP a cabinet birth, but winning elections require regular touch with the constituency people," he added.
However, as of now, SAD's failure to project a leader from the Ludhiana constituency and the ongoing infighting among SAD rank and file for superiority are some factors that provide Tewari an edge over SAD and enthusiasm to his poll strategists.
In the meantime, proximity of some of the Congress' leader with senior SAD leadership will provide all required ammunitions to the SAD strategists to fire fresh salvos at Tewari time and again.
Key factor that SAD strategist may use against Tewari.
Profile of Ludhiana constituency:-
Of the 15 parliamentary elections held so far since independence, Congress has won the seat eight times while the Akalis seven times. Till the last delimitation of the parliamentary and assembly constituencies that took place in 2007, Ludhiana parliamentary constituency was dominated with the rural assembly segments thus providing a natural edge to the Akalis. However, post 2007 delimitation Ludhiana is a predominantly urban constituency with six totally urban, two semi-urban and only one rural segment, Jagraon falling in this parliamentary constituency.
1. Vidhan Sabha segments falling under Ludhiana parliamentary seats:-
1. Ludhiana East
2. Ludhiana South
3. Atam Nagar
4. Ludhiana Central
5. Ludhiana West
6. Ludhiana North
MPs from Ludhiana til now:
1951: Bahadur Singh, Congress
1957: Ajit Singh Sarhadi, Congress
1962: Sardar Kapur Singh, Shiromani Akal Dal
1967: Devinder Singh Garcha, Congress
1971: Devinder Singh Garcha, Congress
1977: Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Shiromani Akali Dal
1980: Devinder Singh Garcha, Congress
1984: Mewa Singh Gill, Shiromani Akali Dal
1989: Rajinder Kaur Bulara, Akali Dal (Amritsar)
1991: Gurcharan Singh Galib, Congress
1996: Amrik Singh Aliwal, Shiromani Akali Dal
1998: Amrik Singh Aliwal, Shiromani Akali Dal
1999: Gurcharan Singh Galib, Congress
2004: Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Shiromani Akali Dal
2009: Manish Tewari, Congress