Congress, SAD top guns hold road shows as Shahkot campaign concludes
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Congress, SAD top guns hold road shows as Shahkot campaign concludes

The roadshow, which started from Lohian and passed through Malsian and Shahkot, will conclude at Mehatpur in the evening.

punjab Updated: May 27, 2018 10:10 IST
Parampreet Singh Narula
Parampreet Singh Narula
Hindustan Times, Shahkot
Shahkot bypoll,Captain Amarinder,Hardev Singh Ladi
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh during the roadshow in Shahkot on Saturday. (Pardeep Pandit/HT)

Campaigning for the assembly bypoll here ended on Saturday with top leaders from the two main sides, the state’s ruling party Congress and the seat-holder Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), holding road shows.

Necessitated by the death of SAD’s Ajit Singh Kohar, the bypoll is scheduled to be held on Monday, and Saturday was the last day for campaigning. The result is scheduled for May 31.

The Congress charge was led by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who showed up to campaign for Hardev Singh Ladi Sherowalia for the first time in this contest. In a specially designed bus, he started his roadshow from Lohian Khas, and braved the scorching heat for at least six hours while waving his hand and saluting supporters. At places, people showered flower petals on him. “The response of the people is immense. Our victory is the writing on the wall. Ajit Singh Kohar may have represented this segment five times but he was infamous for registering false FIRs as well,” he said on the sidelines, adding, “I have never met his son Naib Singh, who is now the SAD candidate, but I have been told that he is very arrogant.”

The CM also assured compensation to muskmelon farmers whose crop was destroyed in hailstorm recently. “Dues of sugar mill owners of Rs 70 crore will also be disbursed after the election code of conduct is lifted,” he promised. The party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari and state unit chief Sunil Jakhar, who is MP from Gurdaspur, accompanied the chief minister.

Jakhar said, “I am a bypoll product as I was elected as MP in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll! I am sure the SAD will lose its deposit here.”

To welcome Amarinder, ministers and MLAs were given the duty of gathering crowds to the roads.

SAD president and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal held a road show in which he sat on a sofa on the roof of a truck, while party leader Bikram Singh Majithia drove a tractor on the route of around 60 kilometres that was covered in six hours to get attention.

A large number of vehicles in both cavalcades bore number plates of other districts. The Aam Aadmi Party had held its road show on Friday. “Unlike Congress, we have not organised a road show in an air-conditioned bus worth Rs 2 crore!” Majithia said, “Akali Dal is a party of farmers, and that is why we are riding tractors.”

“Amarinder’s coming for a road show of sand smuggler Ladi is clear indication that all promises made by the chief minister to end illegal mining were farce. We are sure to win the seat,” claimed Sukhbir.

Ladi is accused of illegal mining in an FIR registered hours after his candidature was announced. The police officer who registered the FIR has since been shifted and reportedly diagnosed with a mental health problem.

Rana’s new look!

During his road show, Amarinder appreciated the “jathedar” look of former minister Rana Gurjit Singh, who has stopped trimming his beard. “In his new look, he is looking very distinguished,” said the CM. A moneyed businessman, Rana is considered a local satrap and is the force behind the Congress candidate, Ladi Sherowalia.

His new look also led to speculation that he wants to contest next year for the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha segment, which has a significant number of religious-minded Sikhs who might appreciate his dedication to the tenet of not trimming hair.

Sand ‘sale’ by SAD

Meanwhile, in a dig at Congress candidate Ladi, accused of illegal sand mining, Adampur MLA and SAD leader Pawan Kumar Tinu installed in the town a symbolic vend to sell sand of different varieties — ‘Ladi Sherowalia’ brand sand was priced at Rs 50 a kg, and ‘Rana Gurjit’ brand at Rs 35 a kg. There was also ‘Rana Gurjit’s Nepali cook’ brand at Rs 25, reminding people of a reported scam in allocation of sand mines wherein “former” employees of then-minister Rana got contracts.

First Published: May 26, 2018 15:55 IST