Ambala City: Candidates’ last-ditch efforts to take potshots at each other
As the election day approaches, development issues in the Ambala City assembly segment have taken a back seat. The three main contenders — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA and candidate Aseem Goel, Congress candidate and turncoat Jasbir Singh Malour, and former Congress minister and now rebel Nirmal Singh — are attacking each other on corruption, criminal cases and issues of moral integrity.
In a rally organised in support of Nirmal Singh at Rambagh area in Ambala, speaker after speaker attacked BJP and Goel on corruption issues. Later talking to HT at his residence in Cantonment area, Singh said, “People of the city, even from his own (Bania) community, are asking me to investigate the corruption that has taken place in the past five years in the city. ”
Talking to HT on the sidelines of his public meeting in Jaggi Colony, Singh’s arch nemesis Malour also contended corruption to be a big issue this election. “From contracts of city roads to recruitment, there is corruption everywhere. The BJP says they recruited people on merit, but it is during its government when most of the exam papers got leaked.”
On other end of the constituency, addressing a public meeting in Kavali village, Goel questioned Singh’s involvement in criminal cases, saying, “His supporters say they can make him win even if he is in jail. Do you want such people to represent you?” Attacking Malour, Goel said, “In 2009, when in Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), he (Malour) had said Congress is the killer of Sikhs and should never be supported. But now he is asking for votes for the same party of killers.”
Countering the corruption allegations, Goel said, “If they believe in these allegations, why have they not made a single complaint against me in all these years?”
While nationalism, removal of Article 370, and ‘Howdy Modi’ event in the USA remained some of the rallying points in Goel’s public meetings, for Malour, these are non-issues in the assembly elections.
For Singh’s supporters, the “betrayal” by the Congress in denying him a ticket will sway the voters against Malour, particularly in rural areas. “Singh is becoming a rallying point for the opposition. Another Congress leader Himmat Singh (Congress candidate from Ambala City in 2014) is backing him besides SAD-INLD, which benefit Goel,” said a local Congress leader who didn’t want to be named.