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Its’ Emotions versus Organization at Khadoor Sahib

May 16, 2019 | By

by: Harjeshwar Pal Singh*

Khadoor Sahib constituency in Punjab has the unique distinction of being spread over all the three geographical regions of Punjab —Majha, Malwa and Doaba.

Khadoor Sahib is considered a Panthic seat which has some of the most important sacred places in Sikh history including Tarn Tarn, Khadoor Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Baba Bakala.

The seat is predominantly rural and Sikh and has traditionally been considered a bastion of Shiromani Akali Dal.

Khadoor Sahib being largely a border constituency is also considered a part of the “wild west” of Punjab with its notorious halka in-charges, drug lords and Gunda police officers. Sand mining, Land grabbing ,Drug pedalling, Parcha politics etc. are largely routine in the area .

Civil society in the form of kisan, employees, labour unions, religious organisations etc is very weak and general control of political leaders and parties is high.

Majority of the population in villages comprise the Majhail Jatts and Majhabi Sikhs. However Kamboj Sikhs are also present in large numbers in Sultanpur Lodhi, Jandiala, Kapurthala and Baba Bakala belts .

In 2014, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal)’s Ranjit Singh Brahmpura had won by over 1 lakh votes from Congress party’s Harminder Singh Gill. Aam Aadmi Party candidate Bhai Baldeep Singh had also scored over 1.44 lakh votes .

However since 2015 ,issue of “Beadbi”, “Chitta” and “ Dhakeshahi” and “Split” has severally depleted SAD (B) in the area. In 2017 assembly elections all 9 seats in the area were won by Congress party with AAP also doing well in seats like Jandiala, Baba Bakala, Zira, Sultanpur Lodhi and Khadoor Sahib polling over 2.25 lakh votes. Subsequently the rebellion of Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and the formation of SAD (Taksali) has further marginalised the Badals in the region .

In this Lok Sabha elections while Congress has brought in Jasbir Singh Dimpa, SAD (B) has given ticket to Bibi Jagir Kaur while Sukhpal Singh Khaira led Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) has given ticket to Bibi Paramjeet Kaur Khalra ,the wife of Shaeed Jaswant Singh Khalra who sacrificed his life for human rights. SAD (Taksali) who had put General JJ Singh as its candidate has withdrawn in favour of Bibi Parmjeet Kaur Khalra .

This time Khadoor Sahib should be a fight between Khalra and Dimpa, basically between emotion and organisation.

Bibi Khalra’s campaign is over 2 month old and has gained over time. She has been relentlessly touring villages.

She is getting very good response from grass root with assortment of Panthics, AAPians, PDA types, BSP, Kisan unions and ordinary volunteers canvassing day and night for her. The bulk of AAP workers and supporters seem to be in her favour. Support of Ranjit Singh Brahmpura should give her strength in Tarn Tarn district.

She is getting very good response from Majha area which was the area of Jaswant Singh Khalra and which bore the brunt of militancy. SAD (Taksali) joining forces with her should give her extra edge. Interestingly AAP had got muted response in this part of Majha (Taran Tarn, Valtoha, Patti ) during last elections.

One big factor to the advantage of Bibi Paramjeet Khalra is the constituency —which has a common “mind” largely rural and Sikh and which lies at the epicentre of Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra’s sacrifice and which faced the brunt of state repression in 1980s and early 90s.

However lack of resources, organisation as well as a well known symbol are her weak spots. Moreover the “Gundagardi” of “Halka in-charges” could deter many of her supporters to act as “poling agents” in areas like Zira, Valtoha, Patti etc which are notorious for their “Bahubali” ruling politicians. Also her influence in Dalit “Vehras” seem to be muted .

Congress will be mostly dependent upon their 9 MLA’s, Sarpanches, Dalits and urban Hindus .Its candidate Jasbir Singh Dimpa has a good base in Jandiala and Baba Bakala area. Dimpa’s campaign has largely been show of strength of Sarpanchs. Resources and organisation are Congress strength. At the fag end, his campaign is also gaining momentum .

However on the flip side, internal factionalism of Congress will hurt Dimpa especially in Kapurthala and Khadoor Sahib seats. The recent “Dhakka” and “sale” of Sarpanchi in villages could also hurt Congress. Non Performance of Congress government has also dimmed enthusiasm for Congress which is in stark contrast to 2017 elections.

The SAD (B) candidate Bibi Jagir Kaur is handicapped by image problem as well as the issue of Beadabi. Her campaign lacks the typical vigour of ‘Akalis’. SAD (B) is largely avoiding public places for meetings, using houses of core supporters for meetings. She seems to be in the third spot .

One thing that is quiet obvious now is that number of people who are aware of issues, candidates and make independent decisions is getting higher and higher.

A lot will depend upon the last few days of the campaign. How desperately Congress and SAD (B) political machines slog it out on the polling day will also be crucial in the end.

Overall Bibi Paramjeet Kaur Khalra has an edge in this close elections.

  • Author is Assistant Professor at Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, Chandigarh. He is known for his well-considered political observations. He visited the Khadoor Sahib constituency to take stock of things on ground zero for writing above write-up.

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