Jalandhar seat: Shift in Dalit dynastic allegiances amidst contest between ‘outsiders’ : The Tribune India

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Jalandhar seat: Shift in Dalit dynastic allegiances amidst contest between ‘outsiders’

Jalandhar seat: Shift in Dalit dynastic allegiances amidst contest between ‘outsiders’


Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, April 22

A shift in decades’ long traditional Dalit dynastic allegiances, amidst a poll contested fiercely between “outsiders”, has become the defining characteristic of the prestigious Jalandhar seat, the heart of the powerful Doaba Dalit vote base in the state for this year’s LS polls. Days after veteran Congress leader Karamjit Kaur Chaudhary embraced the BJP, Congress leader Mohinder Singh Kaypee’s joining the Akali Dal today marks the exit of the last of the formidable Dalit dynasts from the Congress, whose presence was synonymous with the party in Doaba.

Family legacies of Chaudhary and Kaypee

  • Chaudhary family patriarch, Master Gurbanta Singh, a respected Dalit leader of the region, remained seven-time MLA and Congress minister
  • Master Gurbant’s elder son Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was five-time MLA, Karamjit’s husband Chaudhary Santokh Singh was two-time MP and two-time MLA. Jagjit’s son Surinder Chaudhary remained MLA once and is still with the Congress
  • Karamjit contested the Jalandhar bypoll last year, necessitated by Santokh Chaudhary’s demise during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. She lost the seat to then AAP candidate Sushil Rinku by a margin of over 58,000 votes
  • Her son, Phillaur MLA Vikramjit, remains in Congress and is the fiercest critic of Congress ticket holder Charanjit Singh Channi.
  • Meanwhile, MS Kaypee’s father Darshan Singh Kaypee was five-time MLA who was killed by militants in 1992. MS Kaypee remained MLA thrice and was Jalandhar MP in 2019. He had been upset over ticket denials and for being allocated constituencies not chosen by him, where he lost

The Chaudhary family’s 77 years of association with Congress ended with Kaur shifting loyalties to the BJP over the denial of the ticket to her family from the Jalandhar seat. Meanwhile, the Kaypee family has also had a over 50 years’ old association with the Congress.

The four key parties on the seat — Congress, AAP, BJP and SAD — have all fielded “outsiders” or “parachute candidates” on the seat, triggering ire from former camps, making the contest one of the most interesting and watched seats in the state.

The heated social media campaigns have also made candidates earn epithets like “outsiders”, “titli”, “turncoats” “traitors” etc. from the public and rivals.

BJP candidate Sushil Rinku, AAP candidate Pawan Tinu and SAD candidate Mohinder Singh Kaypee were imported from AAP, SAD and Congress, respectively. While Congress candidate Charanjit Singh Channi is not a party hopper, he is an import to the Jalandhar seat having previously contested other seats, (hence the outsider tag). The BSP is the only party which has fielded a loyalist Balwinder Kumar.

Despite all being Dalit candidates on the reserved seat, the poll marks the end of a political era and vacuum in Dalit politics in the region. Ages of influence has given way to contemporary leaders of recently acquired power bases, who in most cases have been termed opportunists.

Another interesting factors on the seat is the quickly changing equations, Channi a popular choice, has been beset with a host of barbs from inside his party with Vikaramjit Chaudhary (and other leaders) opening fronts against him. The acceptance of the ticket by relative Kaypee (considered a gentlemanly politician) who had repeatedly been adamant to contest against Channi even days ago (Kaypee’s daughter is married to Channi’s nephew), also marks a significant shift in stance and on the seat’s dynamics. Meanwhile, Rinku, an over 58,000 margin victor from last year has also faced the wrath of the disgruntled AAP cadres. Meanwhile, Tinu faces similar ire from peeved former SAD colleagues.

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