Jalandhar, February 11
With almost a week left for the state Assembly poll, this is the most crucial time for the politicians who would be making all-out efforts to win over the voters.
Bigwigs of all parties have been doing the rounds in the constituency, which lies in the heart of Jalandhar district –Jalandhar Central seat. While Chief Minister Charanjit S Channi campaigned for Congress candidate Rajinder Beri about three days ago, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur on Friday addressed a rally in favour of the BJP candidate and former minister Manoranjan Kalia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is set to visit the PAP grounds, which is part of the same constituency, too will surely heat up the political scene.
Contesting separately from the BJP this time, the Akali Dal fielded Valmiki candidate and former MC safai karamchari Chandan Grewal from the general seat. Though initially his campaign was running mild, his recent attempt to woo the community voters in Ali Mohalla, Milap Chowk area, parts of Rama Mandi, Kot Karan Khan, Dakoha and Shakti Park has given him a good boost. There is an estimated number of 26,000 Valmiki voters in this segment.
Even though the Hindu business community is the most dominant section here, it is likely between the BJP, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party. Though there have been allegations that AAP candidate Raman Arora had to pay a huge sum to the party to fetch a ticket, he is popular as a bhajan singer in the temples of the area, which could get him an edge. He is also the president of the Cloth Merchants’ Association at Peer Bodla Bazaar, besides being a leader of the Arora Samaj. The Assembly seat encompasses the old bazaars of the city.
The Congress candidate initially faced trouble as some prominent councillors, including Jasleen Sethi and Banti Neelkanth, did not get along with him. But after mediation by Jalandhar MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh, they are all now siding with Beri and are daily addressing rallies in his favour.
- Residents of the area near Talhan are the most disgruntled lot. The road from Rama Mandi to Talhan has been in a bad condition for almost five years. Though the work of repairing it has started, residents are likely to show their anger against the sitting MLA for not coming to their rescue during his entire tenure
- Satvir Singh, a resident of Central Town, said: “When there are issues of roads in other parts of the constituency, good, motorable roads in our locality which had inter-locking tiles are being unnecessarily replaced with concrete roads.”
- Women residents of Ekta Nagar near Rama Mandi said: “The streetlights in our mohalla have not been working for months. We are waiting for the MLA or his family to visit us for seeking votes so that we can tell him how unsafe is our area.”
Congress, BJP win four times each
The Congress and the BJP have won four times each in the past eight polls. While the BJP’s Manoranjan Kalia has won the seat in 1985, 1997, 2007 and 2012, the Congress has won it in 1980, 1992, 2002 and 2017. Kalia’s father became an MLA on the JNP ticket in 1977. This will be the third contest between Kalia and Beri. Beri lost to Kalia with a slender margin of 1,065 votes in 2012. In 2017, Beri turned the tide towards himself winning by 24,078 votes.
Total voters - 1,71,209
Male - 88,755
Female - 82,448
Third gender - 6
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