GS Paul & Ravi Dhaliwal
Amritsar/Gurdaspur, Mar 10
Voting for a change, the silent ‘Majhails’, the local terminology used for the Majha people, gave a decisive mandate in the favour of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Majha, comprising Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot, has 25 seats; 16 went to AAP.
Gurdaspur, Pathankot buck trend
- The Congress fared well in Gurdaspur and Pathankot by bagging six of the 10 seats
- Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa scampered home with a wafer-thin margin of 446 votes
- Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa retained his Fatehgarh Churian seat despite the odds stacked against him
- In Pathankot, state BJP chief Ashwani Sharma beat his nearest rival Amit Vij of the Congress by 7,700 votes; In Batala, AAP’s Sherry Kalsi defeated Cong’s Ashwani Sekhri
The party appears to have eaten into rival Congress’ votes too which had in 2017 won 22 of the 25 seats. AAP, which couldn’t get even one seat in 2017, has won nine in Amritsar, four in Tarn Taran and three in Gurdaspur. The SAD-BSP and the BJP got one seat each in Amritsar and Pathankot, respectively. The Congress got six seats in Gurdaspur and Pathankot, and one in Amritsar.
The Congress had a very strong line-up in Majha, including Punjab Congress chief Navjot Sidhu in Amritsar East, working president Sukhwinder Danny Bandala in Jandiala Guru, Deputy CMs Sukhjinder Randhawa in Dera Baba Nanak and OP Soni in Amritsar Central, Raj Kumar Verka in Amritsar West, Sukhbinder Sarkaria in Raja Sansi and senior ministers Tript Rajinder Bajwa in Fatehgarh Churian, Aruna Chaudhary in Dina Nagar and former PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa in Qadian.
The Akali Dal, too, had fielded senior Panthic leaders such as Ranjit Singh Brahmpura in Khadoor Sahib, Gulzar Singh Ranike in Attari, Virsa Singh Valtoha in Khemkaran, Gurbachan Singh Babehali in Gurdaspur, Adesh Partap Singh Kairon in Patti and Sucha Singh Chhotepur in Batala. Barring Partap Singh Bajwa, Sarkaria, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, all had to taste the defeat against “lesser-known opponents” of AAP.
Unlike the SAD which had tried to influence the voters with their ‘jumlas’ of not to replace their ‘turbans’ with ‘topis’, AAP was successful in penetrating into the Panthic belt without banking either on the religion or caste card this time.
It appeared that the AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘Delhi model’ and frequent rounds in the region focussing solely on the “work done by him” for overall development and revamping the education and health system in Delhi, has paid off.
In rural Majha, there are close linkages between sarpanches, party cadre and people at the local level which were the advantages of traditional parties — the SAD and Congress. AAP did wonders here too and secured its place.
The real surprise, however, came from the Amritsar East where poll analysts had written off AAP. Its nominee Jeevan Jyot Kaur emerged as a dark horse. She defeated SAD’s Bikram Majithia and Congress’ Navjot Sidhu. She led the race by a margin of 6,750 votes, and Sidhu and Majithia followed, in that order.
In Amritsar North, debutant Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, the ex-IG, toppled SAD candidate Anil Joshi, a former minister, by a margin of 28,318 votes. In Amritsar Central, Deputy CM Om Parkash Soni tasted defeat for the first time in his political career against AAP’s Ajay Gupta by 14,026 votes.
In Amritsar district, the SAD, the Congress and BJP had to console themselves with just one seat each. SAD’s Ganieve Kaur won in Majitha, Congress’ Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria in Rajasansi in Amritsar district and BJP’s state president Ashwani Kumar got single seat of Pathankot. Tarn Taran district’s all four seats were grabbed by AAP.
Winners from the region
Against expectations, AAP eats into Congress’ vote share in Majha; Jeevan Jyot emerges dark horse in Sidhu-Majithia fight
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