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Dakha, a tough nut to crack for Congress as it loses fifth time in a row

In the past four elections, including both Punjab Assembly and Lok Sabha from 2012 to 2019, the Congress has failed to win from the Dakha seat
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana | By Aneesha Sareen Kumar, Ludhiana
PUBLISHED ON OCT 24, 2019 11:31 PM IST

hat was expected to be a neck and neck battle turned out to be a cakewalk for SAD’s Manpreet Ayali as he had a lead right from the first round when the counting began in Gurusar Sudhar this morning. Even as Dakha was the hot seat for both the ruling party and the SAD in the run-up to polls, the verdict on Thursday has proved once again that Dakha is a tough nut to crack for the Congress, which has lost the election from this seat for the fifth time in a row.

In the past four elections, including both Punjab Assembly and Lok Sabha from 2012 to 2019, the Congress has failed to win from the Dakha seat. It was SAD’s Ayali who won the assembly seat in 2012, followed by AAP’s HS Phoolka in 2017. In the 2014 general elections, it was AAP which took the lead from this segment. Even in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, despite the Congress being in power in Punjab, it was Simarjeet Singh Bains of Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) who took the lead from Dakha even as the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat was won by Congress’s Ravneet Singh Bittu.

Ayali had started holding public meetings immediately after Phoolka’s resignation was accepted in August this year. This was two months before Congress even announced their candidate from the seat. Ayali’s agenda of development clicked well with the public who had also seen his work in the past term. An anti-incumbency wave in Dakha combined with Captain Sandhu being referred to as an ‘outsider’ also worked for the SAD.

Moreover, internal factions within the local Congress coupled with a series of protests against the ruling Congress and allegations of Congress minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu beating up a worker and tossing his turban all led to the party’s debacle.

The CM’s charisma too did not work for the residents of this assembly segment comprising 110 villages and a municipal council. Captain Amarinder Singh conducted a roadshow twice in this segment during campaigning, raising many eyebrows. On the other hand, SAD president Sukhbir Badal, Union minister Harsimrat Badal and senior Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia had been actively campaigning in Dakha, asking people to vote for Ayali for development.

“People had been complaining during roadshows that the local leadership of the Congress does not meet them or takes their calls. There was a fear in the residents that they might again be betrayed after Phoolka,” said a party insider.


Yet again Congress faced a drubbing from Sarabha village, considered to be a stronghold of Akalis. Ayali received 1,285 votes from this village, while the Congress managed to garner merely 744 from the historic town, belonging the martyr freedom fighter Kartar Singh Sarabha.

Kulbir Singh Zira MLA from Zira was camping in the village for nearly 10 days. However, MLA’s presence proved to be counterproductive for the ruling Congress party. There were reports of his confrontation with the villagers. The villagers had also accused Zira of threatening them.

The village had witnessed an ugly face-off between SAD and Congress, a day before the elections. Following this, a case was registered against SAD workers for vandalising but the move boomeranged and SAD got the sympathy of the voters.

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