Gurdaspur: Uniting warring Akali leaders a key challenge for Daljit Singh Cheema : The Tribune India

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Gurdaspur: Uniting warring Akali leaders a key challenge for Daljit Singh Cheema

Gurdaspur: Uniting warring Akali leaders a key challenge for Daljit Singh Cheema

Daljit Singh Cheema



Tribune News Service

Ravi Dhaliwal

Gurdaspur, April 16

Daljit Singh Cheema, a surprise pick of the SAD for the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, today arrived into uncharted territory even as local leaders apprised him of the numerous challenges he is likely to encounter.

In 2020, the Akali Dal had pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in protest against the three farm laws.

The two parties had forged an alliance in 1997 when Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister. The BJP-SAD juggernaut enjoyed tremendous success for the next 25 years, winning five out of the seven elections held.

The first and foremost challenge for the Akali veteran will be to bring all the warring leaders on a single platform. Former MLAs GS Babbehali and LS Lodhinangal and SAD Majha youth in-charge Ravi Karan Kahlon have their pockets of influence. However, it remains to be seen whether they are able to translate their individual dominance into a joint effort aimed at making their candidate win. Cheema’s old pals like former ministers Balbir Singh Baath, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sucha Singh Langah are no longer there to guide him. Sekhwan has passed away, Baath is indisposed while Langah has been rendered hors-de-combat following his sleaze video that surfaced in 2017.

Cheema will also have to stitch together a formidable team in the Hindu dominated seats of Bhoa, Pathankot, Sujanpur and Dinanagar. The Akalis have a minimal presence in these seats. So much so, when the BJP-SAD used to be partners, the former used to allocate just one seat out of 50 to the latter for the Pathankot Municipal Corporation poll.

In 2019, BJP’s Sunny Deol had taken a massive lead from these four segments. This piece of statistics is sure to make the SAD candidate anxious. Observers say the die is cast for Cheema and he will have to work extremely hard to achieve any sort of parity with rival parties. “Otherwise, he may run up against a solid Hindu wall, a development which will not augur well for him,” said a BJP MLA.

He will also have to take out time, and resources, to tame the strong Christian vote bank. This community has acted as a game changer in the past and this time too it will be no different.

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#Daljit Singh Cheema #Gurdaspur #Shiromani Akali Dal


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