Counting down to Punjab civic polls: Day of high-octane roadshows, heavyweights step in ring

The polls will be held on February 14.

With urban local body polls approaching, political activities of various parties have intensified. On Wednesday, AAP had organised a series of roadshows in Punjab in which two of their Delhi MLAs also took part. Meanwhile, while SAD president Sukhbir Badal is already visiting various areas instead of attending the Parliament session. Congress leadership too is equally active where Punjab Finance Minister  Manpreet Badal along with his entire family is busy campaigning for Bathinda Municipal Corporation elections.

AAP

Meanwhile, Punjab’s co-convener and AAP’s national spokesperson Raghav Chadha, who is also vice-chairman of Delhi Jal Board, concluded his three days visit in Punjab with a road show in Bathinda. He was in Ropar, Anandpur Sahib area, on Monday, Batala and Pathankot on Tuesday and Bathinda on Wednesday. Everywhere, he organised roadshows in support of party candidates.

Apart from this, Jarnail Singh, another Delhi MLA and also Punjab affairs in-charge, was in Doraha and Payal areas of Ludhiana for roadshows on Wednesday, while in public meetings at Bassi Pathana, he once again sold the Delhi model as he said, “Hun Dilli door nahi…I know that ruling party will use official machinery in these polls… but I appeal to all of you to give chance to our candidates and guarantee of their honesty is taken by me…We have done bijli ka bill half and pani ka bil maaf in Delhi…government schools and hospitals are better than private ones, everything can happen in Punjab too. So after local bodies…you must give us a chance in 2022 Vidhan Sabha too.”

Jarnail told the people that he is with them only for the whole year now.

Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema was in Dasuya, Mukerian and Dinanagar area doing roadshows. While talking to The Indian Express, he said, “These polls hold great importance to us. We are contesting them for the first time in Punjab and hence, their results will set the tone for us for the upcoming Vidhan Sabha polls. On Thursday and Friday Bhagwant Mann will also join us in different parts of Punjab.”

Raghav Chadha in Bathinda however targeted Badals where he said, “B for Badals, B for Bedagarak as they ruined the state for their self interest.” Meanwhile, Bathinda Municipal Corporation will be going for polls for 50 wards.

Shiromani Akali Dal

Not only this, even Akali Dal is equally aggressive with SAD president Sukhbir Badal, apart from other senior leaders making visits to various parts of Punjab since February 3. On Wednesday, SAD president was in Ferozepur to campaign for Ferozepur Municipal Council candidates where he spoke about violence in Moga in which “two Akali workers were killed”.

He said that “Punjabis were paying a very high price for the goondaism let loose by the Congress party” even as he castigated the State Election Commission (SEC) for failing to ensure free and fair elections to municipal bodies and requested Governor V P Singh Badnore to avert more loss of lives as had occurred in Moga Tuesday night.

“In a barbaric manner, Congressmen ran over two Akali workers Harminder and Jagdeep in Moga last night,” the SAD president, adding that SEC was “directly responsible” for these deaths as it had failed to rein in Congress goons despite repeated complaints since more than one week. “Had the SEC done its duty and directed the state police to take action in the cases of armed attacks on SAD workers at Jalalabad and Bhikhiwind, Congress workers would not have got so emboldened and murdered Akali workers in cold blood like this,” he said.

He however stated that SAD was still getting a positive response though the ruling party was “misusing their power” in these polls. He requested the Governor to dismiss the State Election Commissioner and demanded videography of polling booths to avert rigging.

Congress

In the last leg of elections, Congress is also making all efforts to reach out to candidates as in Bathinda Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal’s entire family is busy campaigning for 50 Congress candidates contesting Municipal Corporation Bathinda polls. These include Manpreet Badal himself, his wife Veenu Badal, his son Arjun Badal and his brother-in-law Jaijeet Singh Johal who are campaigning in different parties and meeting different people on daily basis. On Wednesday evening, Veenu Badal was in ward number 18 in favour of candidate Bikram Kranti though she had a series of programs throughout the day while Manpreet was at ten different locations of the city to campaign for party candidates including industrial area, Mati Dass Nagar, Paras Ram Nagar. As Sukhbir is also focusing on Bathinda ULBs, it is being said that estranged cousins are head on and their pride is at stake. In 2015, SAD had won the polls of Bathinda  Municipal Corporation.

Independents

As already mentioned that over 2,800 independent candidates are in fray and hence even these candidates are making their-last minute efforts reaching out to voters. However, whether a party candidate or an independent farmers’ movement is the main issue in all the political speeches in these polls which will be happening on February 14 while counting will happen on February 17.

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