Constituency Watch — Jalandhar: Deras, churches may play decisive role in elections : The Tribune India

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Constituency Watch — Jalandhar: Deras, churches may play decisive role in elections

Constituency Watch — Jalandhar: Deras, churches may play decisive role in elections

Football Chowk in Jalandhar city.



Tribune News Service

Deepkamal Kaur

Jalandhar, May 14

After losing the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat (reserved) in the bypoll exactly a year ago, the Congress has been playing every card to reclaim its position in the Dalit hub in the election.

Defeated by the Aam Aadmi Party by over 58,000 votes in 2023, this time the Congress is betting on Dalit Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. AAP, which won on seven of the nine Assembly segments of Jalandhar in the LS bypoll, too, is taking every measure to keep its voters intact.

Considered traditionally to be a Congress citadel, the party has won this seat in 10 of the 15 General Election so far. Banking heavily on the consolidation of Hindu votes, the BJP had won two urban Vidhan Sabha segments in 2023. There are five rural seats where the BJP could get only between 5,500 and 10,500 votes which is not a good sign for the BJP. The farmers, especially in Shahkot, Nakodar and Phillaur, have been opposing the BJP candidate.

Unlike 2019 when SAD and the BJP were together or in 2023 when SAD was in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Akali Dal will be contesting a lone battle. This makes the contest five-cornered as the BSP is also a strong force. The party has repeated its 2019 candidate Balwinder Kumar, who had polled a record 2.13 lakh votes.

Much depend on how the BSP performs this time or how the Valmiki/Majhbi Sikh community responds. All five main contestants from Jalandhar are from the Adidharam/Ravidasia/Ramdasia community. Jalandhar has nearly 37 per cent Dalit voters. Of these, nearly 5 lakh are from the community and nearly 2.7 lakh from the Valmiki/Majhbi Sikh community.

The deras in Jalandhar too are known to play a big role in the elections. Unlike previous years, Valmiki Ashram of Baba Pargat Nath in Nakodar too has started getting a huge following just like Dera Sachkhand Ballan, which is popular with the Ravidasia community. A huge section of Dalits in Jalandhar are also followers of the Christianity now and regularly visit Pentecostal churches. Pastors of some of these churches are known to be close to the BJP.

Congress leaders have been reminding the SC voters that AAP had failed on its promise to give a Dalit Deputy Chief Minister in the state. The Congress and AAP are already in a credit war of having doled out Rs 25 crore to Dera Sachkhand Ballan for setting up a research centre.

Major issues

Bad roads, non-functional streetlights, drug menace, liquor smuggling, illegal lottery, little support for sports and hand tools industry

CHARANJIT SINGH CHANNI, (Cong)

Charanjit Singh Channi, 61, was the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab. He also served as the Technical Education Minister. He was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha in 2015-16. He had started his political career as Municipal Councillor in Kharar in 2002. Holder of doctorate degree in political science, he was MLA, Chamkaur Sahib, in 2012 and 2017.

PAWAN KUMAR TINU (AAP)

Pawan Kumar Tinu, 57, is a two-time Akali MLA from the Adampur Assembly seat. He had started his career with BSP and unsuccessfully contested elections in 1997 from Jalandhar South (now Jalandhar West) seat. In 2002 also, he had lost the seat. He left the BSP, formed his own party but later joined SAD. He quit SAD last month to join AAP, which picked him as its candidate.

SUSHIL KUMAR RINKU (BJP)

Sushil Kumar Rinku, 48, is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Jalandhar. He had won LS poll on the Aam Aadmi Party ticket in the bypoll held in May last year. He had started his career as the Congress MC councillor. He became an MLA on the Congress symbol in 2017 but lost in 2022. He joined AAP in 2023 and became MP. He had even got ticket this time but he switched to the BJP.

MOHINDER SINGH KAYPEE (SAD)

Mohinder Singh Kaypee, 67, was the Congress MP from Jalandhar in 2009. He thrice remained MLA from the Jalandhar South (now Jalandhar West) seat in 1985, 1992 and 2002. He was Punjab minister twice in 1992 and then in 2002-07 tenure. A law graduate, he was PCC chief from 2008-10. He is related to Channi as his daughter is wedded to Kaypee’s nephew Manraj Singh. Nursing a grudge against Congress leaders, including Channi, over the denial of ticket in 2022, he left party to join SAD and got ticket.

BALWINDER KUMAR (BSP)

Balwinder Kumar, 45, has been a prominent Dalit activist. Armed with two PG degrees, one in English and the other in journalism, he was a scribe with a national daily till he decided to become a politician. He joined the BSP and unsuccessfully contested the Kartarpur seat twice in 2017 and 2022. He was the party candidate in 2019 LS poll and had managed to get 2.13 lakh votes. He is also a practising lawyer.

The electorate

  • Total votes 16,38,712
  • Male 8,52,546
  • Female 7,86,122
  • Third gender 44

About The Author

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 #Dalits #Lok Sabha


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