Harsimrat faces spirited rivals in bastion Bathinda - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Harsimrat faces spirited rivals in bastion Bathinda

ByVishal Joshi, Bathinda
May 21, 2024 07:04 AM IST

Harsimrat is up against Gurmeet Singh Khudian from the Aam Aadmi Party, Jeetmohinder Singh Sidhu of the Congress and BJP’s Parampal Kaur Sidhu, an IAS-turned-politician. A gangster-turned-politician Lakhwinder Singh, alias Lakha Sidhana, who is contesting on the SAD (Amritsar) ticket, can also influence the electoral calculations.

The sitting MP from Bathinda Lok Sabha Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is seeking the fourth consecutive win this time, is facing a tough electoral battle in a multi-cornered contest in this Akalis’ stronghold.

In 2014, Harsimrat defeated Congress’ Manpreet Badal by 19,000 votes, while in the 2019 polls her victory margin against Congress’ Amarinder Singh Raja Warring was 21,000 votes.
In 2014, Harsimrat defeated Congress’ Manpreet Badal by 19,000 votes, while in the 2019 polls her victory margin against Congress’ Amarinder Singh Raja Warring was 21,000 votes.

Harsimrat, 57, is up against Gurmeet Singh Khudian, 61, from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Jeetmohinder Singh Sidhu, 60, of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Parampal Kaur Sidhu, 59, an IAS-turned-politician. A gangster-turned-politician Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha Sidhana, 45, who is contesting on the SAD (Amritsar) ticket, can also influence the electoral calculations.

Currently, all nine assembly segments of the Bathinda LS seat — Bathinda Urban, Bathinda Rural, Maur, Talwandi Sabo, Bhucho Mandi in Bathinda; Mansa, Sardulgarh, Budhlada in Mansa and Lambi in Muktsar district— are represented by the AAP.

In the last two elections, Harsimrat’s victory margin has remained around 20,000 votes, and the multi-cornered contest will test the election management of the Akalis. In 2014, Harsimrat defeated Congress’ Manpreet Badal by 19,000 votes, while in the 2019 polls, Harsimrat’s victory margin against Congress’ Amarinder Singh Raja Warring was 21,000 votes.

Except for Harsimrat, who is the only member of the Badal family contesting the poll this time, the other four key candidates in the fray are first-timers. Four-time MLA Jeetmohinder is the most experienced among the contenders. The BJP is contesting from Bathinda, a predominantly rural parliamentary seat, for the first time.

SAD hopes panthic pitch pays dividends

The SAD, which has been pushed to the margin in the state, is making all efforts to retain the seat and is hoping to get support for the party’s call to re-strengthen Punjab’s only regional party, which represents the Sikh panth.

Two of the SAD leaders, ex-MLAs from the Bathinda Urban Sarup Chand Singla and Jeetmohinder from Talwandi Sabo, left the party in protest against the Akali leadership and are likely to sway votes in their two key segments. Similarly, Akali stalwart Sikander Singh Maluka, whose daughter-in-law Parampal is contesting on the BJP ticket, is staying away from electioneering, which has left the party worried about the possible dent in its political base in Maur and other segments.

Harsimrat, a former union minister, is widely talking about the establishment of the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), inaugurated in December 2019; the Central University of Punjab (CUP), which started in 2009 and an oil refinery under the PPP (public private participation) that was formed in 2007, as her achievements for the development of Bathinda. She is targeting AAP on the issue of the drug menace and the deteriorated fiscal health of the state under the current political dispensation. The incumbent MP is trying to strike an emotional chord by crediting late Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal for implementing a slew of welfare schemes and introducing development projects.

Khudian banks on AAP’s welfare schemes

Harsimrat’s key opponent Khudian, who won from Lambi, the home assembly constituency of Badals, defeating the five-time chief minister late Parkash Singh Badal, in the 2022 assembly polls, is banking on the AAP government’s welfare initiatives.

Khudian talks about his late father Jagdev Singh Khudian’s image of being an honest leader and urges support for his clean image of being the state’s agriculture minister.

He is relying heavily upon the Bhagwant Mann-led Punjab government’s welfare initiatives, particularly 600 units of free electricity, mohalla clinics and education in government schools, to woo voters. Amid anti-incumbency against state government, Khudian is also banking on the network of the ruling AAP legislators across the constituency even as his electioneering too faced opposition by the farmer unions annoyed over a delay in compensation for loss of crops due to a hailstorm and tornado and deaths of livestock early this year.

Parampal relies on Modi’s magic and family’s legacy

Parampal, who is facing the wrath of farmer unions, blames the AAP and the SAD for trying to disrupt her electioneering in the garb of aggrieved farmers. She mentions the political legacy of father-in-law Maluka and husband Gurpreet Maluka. She counts the ‘Modi wala card’ or the free medical treatment under the Ayushman Bharat scheme and financial assistance to farmers as the key initiative by the Centre. Backed by the top party leadership, Parampal counters Harsimrat’s claims stating that all of the big projects in the Bathinda were planned and funded by the Central government. She calls to oust the SAD as the family-centric leadership has overlooked the issues of the masses.

Jeetmohinder faces opposition within party

The candidature of Jeetmohinder caused heartburn among the Congressmen as a party hopper, who joined the party in October last year, was fielded by overlooking ticket claims by the old guards.

Relying upon the INDI Alliance prospects at the national level, he is aggressively touring the villages to strengthen his support base.

Lakha Sidhana, a popular face among a section of the rural belt, is trying to consolidate the support of the villagers against the AAP government. Being a candidate of a Sikh radical political party, Sidhana is likely to woo the anti-Akali vote share.

Candidates of the SAD, BJP and Congress are seeking votes to strengthen the political base of their respective leadership at the national level while adding that their victory would be a prelude to forming the next state government.

Besides the conventional electioneering of holding meetings in the rural and urban areas across the nine assembly segments spreading over the districts of Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar, candidates are extensively using social platforms to reach the voters with temperatures spiking to over 40 degrees Celsius.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, July 13, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On