Tribune press service
Jalandhar, July 7
Doaba proved to be a congressional stronghold in 2017, with the party bagging 15 of the region’s 23 Assembly seats, a much better performance than in 2012, when it could only win six. As the Punjab heads to the polls early next year, the ruling party, which resonated with confidence in Doaba and elsewhere in the state until a few months ago, faces an unexpected challenge of inside as dissenting voices grow louder, and the opposition suddenly senses a real opportunity.
Farmers may hold the key
- 43% of the total voters are Dalits. Dalit Christian deras could influence polls
- 25% of the population includes the farming community, which may hold the key
- 2015 sacrilege incidents, which led to statewide protests, are not among the top polling issues in the Doaba area
Dalit voters make up 43% of the total electorate in Doaba, but divisions are blatant, as are affiliations. This ensures that the voting patterns change only slightly, if at all. Survey experts therefore estimate that the farming community, which represents 25% of the region’s population, could hold the key in 2022.
The parties prepare for the electoral battle
- Cong Party strives to regain ground lost due to internal disputes, but its problems are far from over
- After its alliance with the Bahujan Samaj party, the Akalis seem optimistic. They are certain to make gains in certain areas with the help of their ally
- AAP Aam Aadmi party, which won two seats in Doaba in 2017, was unable to build on its base after MP Bholath Sukhpal Khaira left
- BJP It won the Phagwara seat in 2017 in alliance with SAD. He recently inducted former AISSF leader Harinder Singh Kahlon
Farmers who have been sitting at Delhi’s borders for more than seven months have not opened their political cards, and since they gain open support from various sections of society, including traders, arhtiyas and Ravidassias, no party is can claim to be their first funder.
While acknowledging that the farmers’ unrest could prove to be a major electoral issue, top BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia believes it is a pan-Punjab issue and Doaba is no exception. “We still have enough time. There may soon be a series of successful talks.
The Congress, meanwhile, is working to regain the ground lost due to differences within the party, although its dissent issues are far from resolved. As rebel MP Pargat Singh, who hired Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh “for breaking his promises to voters,” said, “Congress can always get the upper hand and win the election if let the leaders of the state change hands ”.
Former Congress Minister Avtar Henry believes that “the existing situation could be a source of concern” in the region. “Doaba, which had six ministers from the region under the previous congressional regime in 2002-07, this time has only one cabinet representation. Sunder Sham Arora and Rana Gurjit Singh got the place but the latter lost it far too quickly (after the controversy over the sand mining contract). After the alliance with the Bahujan Samaj party, the Akalis seem optimistic in some areas. Shiromani Akali Dal, MP for Adampur Pawan Tinu, who is incidentally a former BSP chief, however believes that the main members of the new alliance partner may not fully agree with the decision of the BSP supremo Mayawati to sign a pact with the SAD, contesting 23 of the 117 places. BSP state president Jasvir Singh Garhi is ignoring the concerns, however. “There were some initial reservations within the base regarding the sharing of seats, but as the party leader has already reiterated that the pact is final, everyone has started to queue.”
Highlighting the importance of the Dalit card, top Congressman and Rajya Sabha MP SS Dullo was recently seen supporting SC students against his own party on the issue of post-matrix scholarships . This had led SC Social Affairs Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot to choose to skip visits to Doaba.
While the BJP has already announced that its CM candidate will be a Dalit, even SAD Chairman Sukhbir Badal has said that if the party wins, a Dalit leader will get the deputy CM position. Of the total Dalit population of Doaba, 23% are Ravidassias, and 12% are Valmikis and 2-3% are Mazhabi Sikhs. Deras such as Sachkhand Ballan, Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Dera Baba Jaure and Nurmahal-based Dera Kahnan Dhesian are also important nerve centers for Dalit voting choices. Dalit Christian deras could also influence electoral trends, believes Dalit writer Des Raj Kali. Interestingly, the 2015 sacrilege issue is not very present in the minds of voters in Doaba, unlike some other parts of Punjab. Banga SAD MP Dr Sukhwinder Sukhi believes that even education and employment do not matter much as electoral issues. “The majority of those who can afford it have gone abroad to study and work,” he says. The Aam Aadmi party, which won two seats in 2017, was unable to build on its base after Sukhpal Khaira left. Although Jalandhar Balkar Singh’s ex-DCP joined the party recently, the ground seems weak. “Our party has already started working at the stand level and soon there will be a massive membership of workers and leaders to add to the party’s strength,” said Jai Krishan Rori, MP for Garhshankar.
Phagwara was the only Doaba seat the BJP won in 2017 when the party had an alliance with the SAD. But then MP Som Parkash went to the Center. In addition, the former MoS Vijay Sampla Union of Hoshiarpur heads the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. To add to the faces, the party has hired former head of the Federation of Sikh Students of India, Harinder Singh Kahlon, as a prominent Sikh face, but he has yet to show his presence publicly.