Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll: Capt Amarinder govt’s popularity, credibility at stake
The border district of Gurdaspur has a mix of Hindu and Sikh dominated seats with Pathankot district being a BJP stronghold.punjab Updated: Sep 14, 2017 10:48 IST
The bypoll to Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat on October 11 will be the first popularity test of the six-month-old Congress government after a stellar performance in the February state polls. More so, as the party’s performance had been impressive vis-à-vis other political parties in the Majha belt.
The victory in Punjab has been the only saving grace for the Congress in the recent elections after losing many states to the BJP, from Uttarakhand to Assam. A bypoll defeat can play a spoiler for the party ahead of the elections in Himachal, where it is in power, and Gujarat, where it is hoping to romp home after successive poll reverses, especially since byelections are usually won by the party in power.
The border district of Gurdaspur has a mix of Hindu and Sikh dominated seats with Pathankot district being a BJP stronghold. But the Congress votes came cutting across the religion barrier helping it win seven out of nine assembly segments in Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts that fall in the parliamentary constituency. Riding on its secular credentials, an emboldened Congress cannot afford to lose the quarterfinal before the half-yearly test of 2019.
Also at stake is the credibility of the Captain Amarinder Singh government that was propelled to power on populism, but now finds itself out of cash to fulfil its lofty poll promises, including debt waiver to farmers, hiked pensions and one job, per family. The CM has also not gone after the Badal business empire, saying he won’t indulge in “vendetta politics”.
But it did come good on those high on symbolism, which needed no cash, such as doing away with red beacons, giving 33% reservation to women in government jobs and ending the halqa-incharge system. Did the government have more hits or misses, October 15 will tell, the day of counting of votes.