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Infighting among Akali stalwarts worries SAD candidate Cheema

Infighting among Akali stalwarts worries SAD candidate Cheema

Daljit Singh Cheema addresses a gathering during a poll campaign in Gurdaspur. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

Ravi Dhaliwal

Gurdaspur, May 19

He is a stickler for discipline. “For me, discipline is a bridge between goals and achievements,” says Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, SAD candidate from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency.

At exactly 8.45 am, he is at the breakfast table carrying with him a bundle of newspapers, half of them in English language. As he savours his food, he scans papers one by one; the English ones come first. Whenever his cellphone rings, he puts papers asided to receive the call. He never misses a call. Almost all calls in the morning pertain to his day’s events.

While having a glass of “lassi” he says, “I fail to understand why the Modi government says it should be ‘one nation, one election’. The phrase is a misnomer. The BJP talks about holding the parliament, Assembly and local bodies elections at the same time. It means there are three elections and not one. Hence the correct usage should be ‘One nation, simultaneous elections’. “

The doctor has some logic here! As Cheema prepares to leave the breakfast table, he gets a call from a local leader asking him for directions pertaining to the opening of the new SAD office in the city. Cheema makes it clear to him that being a candidate he would not be able to devote much time in the office. “This constituency is a big one. From Dera Baba Nanak till Dhar block, the distance is nearly 120 km. I will be busy travelling and presiding over meetings. I have to visit each of the nine Assembly segments at least four times. Hence, I will not have much time for the office work,” he tells the local satrap on the other side of the call. He also strictly orders him that he himself would choose workers to man the office.

On his way to a gathering in Pathankot, Cheema confides how worried he was about the infighting among the Akali stalwarts of this area. He says, “However, after I met them individually, they agreed to work in unison. Unity does not mean sameness. It means oneness for a purpose. Lamps might be different, but the light is the same.”

He is informed by his Man Friday, Jaskaran Singh, that the Pathankot Assembly seat is a Hindu dominated one. “Gurdaspur constituency is perhaps the only parliamentary seat in Punjab where the religious divide is so sharp. We have four Hindu dominated seats and five seats where the Sikhs are in a majority. I will have to walk like a trapeze artiste if I have to balance things. One mistake and the edifice may start crumbling,” says Cheema.

For good measure, he asks former MLA Ashok Sharma to guide him through his Pathankot tour. His decision to ask a Hindu to lead his campaign in a Hindu dominated seat is a politically correct one. For his efforts, Sharma is rewarded with an important post in the party hierarchy.

Towards end of the tour, somebody on cellphone informs Cheema that a middle-rung leader, close to former DSGMC chief Paramjit Singh Sarna, is giving trouble in Qadian. He is threatening to join the Congress. A call to Sarna is placed. An hour later, Cheema is informed that the leader says he would stay put in the SAD because that was his parent party and nobody leaves his parents. The call to Sarna had worked.

Cheema arrives at his headquarters in Gurdaspur around midnight, fully exhausted and hungry. He is thinking of having a quiet dinner with close confidants where the next day’s routine can be discussed. However, much to his chagrin, Jaskaran informs him that a delegation of Christian leaders from Fatehgarh Churian wants to meet him. Cheema reluctantly agrees and this meeting goes well past midnight.

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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.

#Daljit Singh Cheema #Gurdaspur #Lok Sabha


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