Voters have emotional attachment with ‘takdi’ symbol: Daljit Singh Cheema : The Tribune India

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Voters have emotional attachment with ‘takdi’ symbol: Daljit Singh Cheema

Daljit Singh Cheema, SAD nominee, Gurdaspur

Voters have emotional attachment with ‘takdi’ symbol: Daljit Singh Cheema

Daljit Singh Cheema, SAD nominee, Gurdaspur



Senior Akali leader Daljit Singh Cheema acquired sobriquets like old warhorse, man for all seasons, SAD’s crisis man and so on over the years. He was the party’s first choice for Anandpur Sahib. For the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, Cheema was nowhere in contention. However, SAD’s survey reports indicated something else. They pointed towards the fact that among all senior leaders, Cheema, alone stood a chance to win. The party’s think-tank, led by Sukhbir Singh Badal, instantly sealed the deal. In an interview with Ravi Dhaliwal, Cheema, who does not consider himself an outsider, said, “I am an insider. I am more native than any native Gurdaspuria.”

You have been labelled as an outsider by rival parties. Do you really consider yourself as an outsider?

Mari Bhuchian village, which is part of Gurdaspur district, is my birthplace. I did my matriculation from the government school here. I contested my first election in 2002 from Sri Hargobindpur Assembly seat which again is part of Gurdaspur. Then, how can I be labelled as an outsider? It was from Gurdaspur itself that I along with former cabinet minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan launched the All India Minorities and Dalit Front, which worked for overall development of minority communities.

Mari Bhuchian village, which is part of Gurdaspur district, is my birthplace. SAD workers are feeling liberated because they have been freed from the shackles of the saffron party.

How difficult will it be for you to perform well in the Hindu dominated seats of Bhoa, Pathankot and Sujanpur?

Agreed, we are on the back foot in these areas. Indubitably, I will have to work extremely hard here. We have already appointed halqa in-charges in these segments. In the next few days, I will be presiding over meetings of office-bearers of the Pathankot unit of the SAD. I will take inputs before drafting a comprehensive plan pertaining to these seats. It’s not an uphill task. Workers are feeling liberated because they have been freed from the shackles of the BJP.

What is the response in the Sikh dominated seats of Fatehgarh Churian, Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur city, Qadian and Batala?

Our workers are excited that SAD is fighting on its own. Senior leaders have been assigned specific tasks aimed at winning each of these seats. Going by past performances, the Akalis have always performed exceedingly well here. If the BJP is strong in Pathankot, it is weak in these five seats. You should have seen the excellent response I got during the very first meeting I addressed at Naushera Majha Singh, which is part of Batala segment.

Will contesting on SAD party symbol have an impact?

Yes, without an iota of doubt. In the past, our supporters had to vote for the BJP’s ‘lotus’ symbol. Now, people will vote for the ‘takdi’ symbol. The emotional attachment to this symbol is immense, particularly in villages. There is a feeling among village folks that if they vote for their very own ‘takdi’, there will be development in the area. The ‘lotus’ never enthused the voters.

Christians have a large vote bank in the constituency. In the past, their vote share got distributed among three or four parties. How will you manage it this time?

I have several meetings lined up with Christian leaders. Some of them have already told me that they are fed up with the Congress, AAP and the BJP and hence will vote for us this time. They have certain demands which I will definitely take up once I win.

How do you propose to increase the number of pilgrims through the Kartarpur corridor?

The mandatory requirement of having a passport should be waived. A permit system should be introduced. I will take up this issue with the Home Ministry. Not many people in rural areas have a passport. This means they cannot pay obeisance at the shrine in Pakistan. 

#Anandpur Sahib #Daljit Singh Cheema #Gurdaspur #Lok Sabha


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