April 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India
CPI wrests Malout seat
Malout, April 6
The seat fell vacant after the death of the then SAD minister Sujan Singh. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, allotted the party ticket to Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, who is a member of the SGPC also.
Though in all there were five candidates in the fray the main contest was between Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur and Mr Nathu Ram. The other three, including Mr Gurcharan Singh of the BSP, Mr Chunni Lal and Mr Dhakkar Singh, who got 2,517, 979, and 842 votes, respectively, lost security deposits. With the victory of Mr Nathu Ram, the strength of CPI MLAs in the Vidhan Sabha has risen to two though the party contested 11 Assembly seats in alliance with the Congress.
In this election, which witnessed alleged violence, booth capturing and rigging, use of money and muscle power and allegations and counter allegations by the supporters of Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur and Mr Nathu Ram and alleged violation of model code of conduct, Mr Nathu Ram polled 46,180 votes and Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur managed 39,571 votes only.
Though the constituency has been considered a stronghold of the Congress (in the past eight elections, Congress candidates won four times, Akali candidates two times and Communist Party candidates two times) the victory of the CPI-Congress alliance candidate is not a big deal. Election of this constituency was considered as an acid test for the Congress after assuming power in Punjab after five years. The victory is considered significant because Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Congress leader Jagmeet Brar and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had made it a question of their prestige. Besides Mr Nathu Ram, Mr Surinder Singla, his team from Bathinda and Mr Ram Rattan Bhardwaj, Chairman, Economic and Planning Cell, PPCC, also did tactic campaigning. The poll outcome lends credence to the belief that the combination of Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Jagmeet Brar who worked tirelessly along with Congress ministers, functionaries and activists of the CPI may upset the calculation of the SAD leadership in connection with the political scene of state. However, getting 39571 votes by Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur also gives credence to the fact that Mr Badal, who is fond of elections, enjoys a strong and considerable mass base in the area despite his being out of power.
Political observers feel that the way the election was contested, it can be termed as a beginning of “Bihar-type” politics in Punjab. They cautioned that if the leadership of Punjab did not take necessary steps to check this trend, situation in the coming political battles would be explosive always.
From the beginning of the first round of counting, Mr Nathu Ram got the lead and it kept on going up with the counting of each round. Mr Nathu Ram got considerable lead from rural areas, considered as stronghold of the Akalis.
After the returning officer declared Mr Nathu Ram elected to the Vidhan Sabha, a victory procession was taken out in the area in which party workers and supporters danced to the beats of the drum. The workers and supporters distributed ladoos to celebrate the victory.
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