Jalandhar West: The politics of Bhagats, Ravidasias, Sialkotis : The Tribune India

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Jalandhar West: The politics of Bhagats, Ravidasias, Sialkotis

Jalandhar West: The politics of Bhagats, Ravidasias, Sialkotis

AAP likely candidate Mohinder Bhagat; former Jalandhar West MLA Sheetal Angural, who is likely to contest on the BJP ticket; and former Deputy Mayor and probable Congress candidate Surinder Kaur.



Tribune News Service

Deepkamal Kaur

Jalandhar, June 14

The community profile of Jalandhar West Assembly segment, which is to go for bypoll on July 10, stands apart from the rest of the city and is significant for all parties as they are in the process of deciding on their respective candidates.

There are about 30,000 voters from the Bhagat community, who are Saint Kabir followers and are known to usually vote en bloc, if a party nominates a candidate from the community. There are nearly 35,000 Ravidasias here, most of whom were ancestrally known to be engaged in tannery work.

Nearly 50 per cent of the community here are also Siakotis (Pak migrants of 1947), both from the general and the SC castes. It is mostly this community which has bigwigs of the likes of Mahajans, Kohlis, Guptas and Mayors who are running sports good export houses from the area.

There also are around 400 to 500 Hindu families in the area who moved here from Pakistan in 1960-1980s. These families have Aadhaar cards, Indian passport and all other documentation required, but not the Indian citizenship status. For them, the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act by the BJP-led Central Government is a big issue.

The likely Aam Aadmi Party candidate Mohinder Bhagat, who is son of former Punjab minister Bhagat Chunni Lal, is from the Bhagat community. Kabir Jayanti, which is the year’s biggest event for the community, is also slated to fall on June 22 in the peak time for the by-election. There is also some overlapping of communities as Mohinder Bhagat runs a prominent sports good manufacturing company here.

BJP’s probable candidate and former MLA Sheetal Angural is from the Sialkoti community. He hails from Basti Danishmandan area, where almost every household is engaged in stitching footballs and rugby balls.

The Congress frontrunner is former Deputy Mayor Surinder Kaur, who hails from Jallowal Abadi close to the Buta Mandi area, where families have been engaged in the tannery business for years altogether. The city’s most industrial units, including leather goods manufacturers and sports and surgical complex, also fall in Jalandhar West segment.

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