Jangveer Singh, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 28. As Punjab braces for a cliffhanger, the winning issues remain unclear. Though Punjabis are concerned about macro issues, local ones are also important. If a large number of people agree that the development has occurred during the SAD-BJP rule, an equal number of people still want change. Still others are trying to figure out whom to support and what the trend is.
On the border with Pakistan, Subhash Chander of Khoji Chak village in Boha constituency of the Majha region says “development te hoi hai”. In fact, Subhash’s life has changed for the better after the construction of a bridge over the Ujh River. This was a demand of the villagers since independence.
However Subhash, a Punjabi, wants to be certain that he is on the winning side. “Trend hi ban gaya hai, loki ek vaar ek sarkar nu dekhda ne, duji vaar duji nu”, he says adding, “It is the same in Himachal also”. He is still undecided and does not know whom to support.
In Majitha, SAD youth wing president Bikram Majithia claims if the SAD is confident of holding its own it is because of the development. “This is why anti-incumbency is not a factor in these elections”. Majitha claims the party’s hold on the Majha region will continue despite Congress claims that it is set to witness a role reversal. The Congress had won only two of the 23 seats up for grabs from this region in the last polls.
Though the Congress seemed clearly ahead in Majha in the run-up to the polls, it is set to lose a few seats in Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency mainly because of rebel candidates who are busy canvassing in Pathankot and Sujanpur.
In Malwa, the SAD-BJP combine seems to be in a good position at a number of places and is clearly ahead in Bathinda and Mansa districts because of careful nurturing by Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal. At Talwandi Sabo, Gurmail Singh has no doubt that the power position will improve, adding that the prices of his land have also risen accordingly.
The Malwa region is crucial to the Congress. Pro-peasant policies of the former Congress government had led to a Congress landslide in the Malwa region with Akali ‘jathedars’ biting dust. The Congress is expected to protect part of its fort with the party expected to do well in Patiala parliamentary constituency due to the “Amarinder factor” and also in Sangrur due to wrong distribution of tickets at the instance of SAD MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.
The Congress seems to be on the comeback trail in Doaba with the party going strong in Jalandhar though chinks in ticket distribution could prove costly at a few seats. The BJP is looking weak in the Doaba region, which is likely to help the Congress.
Pradesh Congress president Captain Amarinder is confident rebels won’t make a dent in the Congress fortunes. “What we will lose in Bathinda we will make up with Akali constituencies of Tarn Taran, Khekaran and Khadoor Sahib looking good for us”, he said indicating the party is looking at resurgence in Majha and Doaba and an even sharing of honours in Malwa to pull through.
However at the end of the day besides local issues everyone is careful of being in tune with the overall trend.
“Candidate selection is important”, says Giani Kartar Singh in Jalandhar Cantonment who points out that the former hockey star Pargat Singh is doing well in a traditional Congress seat. But Balkar of Bassi Pathana in Fatehgarh Sahab voices the thoughts of many when he quips “Hawa da ain mauke tak intazar karange” (we will wait for the wave till the last minute). This will ensure the election will remain a cliffhanger.