While the Punjab Congress is preparing for its major political rally in Bathinda, a ‘citadel’ of Punjab’s ruling Badal family, on December 15, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is keeping an eye on the activities of Congressmen across the Malwa region.
SAD members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and ministers from the region have been told to remain in their respective constituencies even on the day of the rally to keep a watch on the movement of Congress workers.
Politics of one-upmanship
The SAD leaders, especially in Rampura, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda (urban) and Maur constituencies, have also planned to hold public meetings of party workers in villages on the same day.
Following politics of one-upmanship, the SAD is also going to hold a parallel rally in Patiala on the same day, but instead of attending that rally, the cabinet ministers from the region Sikander Singh Maluka and Janmeja Singh Sekhon, will remain available in their respective Rampura and Maur constituencies.
“Besides meeting workers in villages, I will be available in the constituency throughout the day on Tuesday,” said Maluka, who is also looking after political affairs of the SAD in Patiala district.
He, however, said that their public meetings had nothing to do with the Congress rally.
Sources in the party said that special instructions had been passed on to Akali sarpanches and local leaders to inform their senior leaders about minute details of the Congress’ preparations for the rally in their respective villages.
“The special verbal instructions are given to keep a check on the use of liquor to lure people for the rally,” a senior SAD leader said.
However, the Congress leaders have already been accusing SAD leaders of intimidating people telling them that they would face dire consequences if they attended the Congress rally.
Gurpreet Singh Kangar, a former MLA, alleged the SAD leaders were making every possible effort to disrupt the Congress rally.
“The problems being faced by us in mobilising people for the rally were very much expected. The SAD leaders have threatened transporters of cancellation of their permits if they gave their vehicles for transportation of people for the rally,” alleged Kangar.
Refuting the Congress allegations, Sekhon said the Congress was leveling the allegation as it was fearing that it might not be able to gather a crowd equal to that in the SAD rally on November 23.