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Lok Sabha polls: Amritsar to witness four-corner contest

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Tribune News Service

GS Paul

Amritsar, May 31

The political landscape in the city for the Lok Sabha elections seems to have narrowed down. While four key candidates are battling to hold a sway over votes, the Congress seems to have an edge as other parties follow closely.

Amritsar Lok Sabha seat has been a Congress bastion. This time, the Congress has fielded its undefeated Member of Parliament Gurjeet Singh Aujla for the third term. Banking on his performance and credibility, Aujla aims to strike a hat-trick after winning the 2017 bypolls and 2019 general polls with convincing margins of 2 lakh and 1 lakh votes, respectively.

Total voters: 16,08,795

Males: 8,44,208

Females: 7,64,524

Transgenders: 63

Parties’ vote share

  • 2014 elections: Congress 47.94%, SAD-BJP% 37.74, AAP 8.2 %
  • 2017 (bypoll): Congress 50.09%, SAD-BJP 30.45%; AAP 14.78%
  • 2019 elections: Congress 51.78%, SAD-BJP 40.19%, AAP: 2.34 %

The arrival of Congress’ star campaigners, including former AICC president and MP Rahul Gandhi, present AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge and MP Shashi Tharoor, has given an impetus to Aujla’s campaigning.

While addressing a rally in Amritsar on May 25, Rahul had assured to waive farmers’ loans, and guaranteed MSP and crop insurance schemes for them if voted to power. Later, Aujla, for a change, also assured to take up the release of Bandi Singhs (Sikh political prisoners), which usually was raked up by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) prominently.

On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which already has seven of the total nine Assembly seats of Amritsar in its pocket has shown faith in its minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal. The AAP, which earlier was considered as a small fry keeping in view the miniscule vote percentage in 2019 Lok Sabha, now holds the reins in the state, putting its candidate in a somewhat comfortable position.

AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and CM Bhagwant Mann conducted roadshows in Amritsar giving a further push to Dhaliwal’s poll campaign. Experts opine that the AAP’s promise to provide free power and improve the education and health sector infrastructure may go in its favour.

With the SAD and the BJP failing to restitch the alliance, it would be a litmus test for both the parties to contest solo. Interestingly, the “panthic party” SAD has put its bet on a Hindu face Anil Joshi, the BJP turncoat and the saffron party fielded former diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

The disadvantage of both the SAD and the BJP is that while in alliance, both had their separate cadre and vote bank in the rural and urban constituencies, respectively. Both the parties seldom made efforts to establish their base in an individual capacity in the rural and urban areas. Together, they could have hit the target, but post-split, their votes would divide.

Nonetheless, Joshi is banking on “works” done during his tenure as Local Bodies Minister while Sandhu comes up with a development agenda to put Amritsar on the global map citing his “international” connections. To counter the “outsider tag”, he also added “Samundri” as “political suffix” to his name to identify his panthic family ties. His grandfather Teja Singh Samundri, a founder SGPC member, had played a vital role in the Gurdwara Reform Movement, a conflict with the Colonial regime. The SGPC, recognising his services to the panth, named its headquarters as Teja Singh Samundri Hall. However, Sandhu faced heat in the rural constituencies owing to the ongoing farm agitation against the BJP candidates.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

#Congress #Lok Sabha

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