Punjab assembly bypolls: Jalalabad set for a thrilling finish
The bypoll was necessitated in constituency after SAD chief Sukhbir Badal resigned as MLA following his victory from Ferozepur Lok Sabha constituency in May electionsUpdated: Oct 19, 2019 00:07 IST
A tough contest between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress is being witnessed in the politically significant Jalalabad assembly constituency where bypoll will be held on October 21.
The bypoll was necessitated in the constituency after SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal resigned as an MLA from here following his victory from Ferozepur Lok Sabha constituency in the May elections.
Leaders of both parties have invested fully energy in the campaigning for this border seat.
While chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh led an impressive roadshow in favour of Congress candidate Raminder Singh Awla on Wednesday, SAD leaders, including party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, have been holding a series of elections meetings in the constituency to ensure the victory of Akali candidate Raj Singh Dibbipura.
It’s a battle of prestige for Sukhbir, who was elected from Jalalabad twice in 2009 and 2014. During his two terms as deputy chief minister, Sukhbir tried to nurture the segment as a SAD bastion.
The ruling Congress is also aiming at penetrating the Akali stronghold, with several ministers and legislators campaigning for Awla, a moneybag.
Both Awla and Dibbipura are contesting assembly elections for the first time.
Development has emerged as a key issue on which both candidates are seeking votes.
Awla says the constituency needs more development and the state government has a vision to provide jobs to the youth in the segment.
At an election meeting at Parbhat Singh Wala Uttar village on Friday, Awla said development in the area is possible if an MLA is elected from the ruling party.
However, taking a dig at Awla, Sukhbir said the Congress candidate should explain why he failed to set up even a single industry in the area. “The Akali government had spent Rs 2,500 crore in the constituency under its 10-year rule,” said Sukhbir at Chak Suhele Wala village on Friday.
THE CASTE FACTOR
The caste factor is set to play a key role in the constituency. Political observers say the Rai Sikh community, which constitutes around 35% of the total 2.04 lakh electorate, can tilt the scales in anyone’s favour if their votes are consolidated. The community is scattered across rural pockets in the constituency.
Dibbipura is a Rai Sikh while Awla is a Hindu leader.
Observers say a section of Mahajan, Khatri and other non-Sikh voters may consolidate in favour of the Congress candidate.
Akalis have a strong base among the rural voters whereas the Congress has an edge among the urban electorate.
Meanwhile AAP candidate Mohinder Singh Kachoora, a Rai Sikh, is focusing more in the rural areas. His success in winning over his community may be a direct loss to the SAD candidate.
Similarly, rebel Congress leader Jasdeep alias Goldy Kamboj, who is contesting as an independent, may dent the prospects of the Congress. Kamboj recently resigned from the post of a secretary of All India Youth Congress in protest against Awla’s candidature.