Four political parties — Shiromani Akali Dal, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and People’s Party of Punjab — have erected stages to address conferences on the first day of the Maghi Mela starting Wednesday at Sri Muktsar Sahib city in the district in a bid to pull large crowds provided the weather does not play a spoilsport.
The 10-day mela starts on January 14 every year while political parties hold their conferences on the first day only.
While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is going to hold its first conference at the fair, the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) is going to hold its conference alone, even as it has held the same under the umbrella of the Sanjha Morcha twice earlier.
The SAD is expecting to pull large crowds as it has put its tents on 3.5 acres of land belonging to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Malout Road.
“We have made arrangements with the seating capacity for 32,000 to 35,000 people on the ground. Even during bad weather, we expect our supporters to attend the conference which would be addressed by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal,” said Kanwarjeet Singh Rozy Barkandi, the Malwa zone in-charge of the Youth Akali Dal (YAD).
About the visit of BJP leadership to the mela, Barkandi said he only knew about his own party’s schedule. Besides Rozy, Dyal Singh Kolianwali, SAD district president, is making all-out efforts to make sure everything goes well.
The problem of budget has led the Congress to make arrangements on about two acres near Bathinda Chowk and Gurdwara Tarn Taran Sahib on Bathinda Road with no roof.
“We have made all arrangements for the Maghi Mela rally. All senior leaders, including state chief Partap Singh Bajwa, former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, leader of Opposition Sunil Kumar Jakhar, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Shakeel Ahmad are expected to reach Muktsar to address the rally,” said Gurmeet Singh Khuddian, the Congress district president.
“Inclement weather may affect the number of people attending the rallies. If it is sunny, more people are likely to attend the conference,” said Khuddian.
The Congress had made arrangements for about 15,000 to 18000 people.
The PPP too has completed all arrangements to hold its conference on 3.75-acre plot on Bathinda Road.
“We are going to hold the conference with party chief Manpreet Singh Badal being the chief guest. We have put tent on about two acres while some of the space has been left for parking this time. However, we are expecting at least 10,000 people at our conference,” said PPP’s senior state vice president Jagjeet Singh Honey Phattanwala, who is the main organiser of the conference.
“Besides focusing on the drug issue, we will salute the 40 Muktas first,” he says.
The AAP is also going to hold its first mela conference after winning four parliamentary seats in Punjab.”We have made arrangements on about 1.25 acres on Bathinda Road and it will be our first mela conference, where our supporters are expected to reach. We are not sending any vehicles to ferry them to the venue. All our four party MPs, including HS Phoolka and state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur —are expected to reach among others. So far, no visit has been confirmed from the senior party leadership in Delhi,” said AAP spokesman Kultar Singh Sandhwan.
It remains to be seen whether senior BJP leaders attend the SAD conference or the Congress puts up a united show and what response the debutant AAP gets at the mela.