Ahead of an election marked by the emergence of AAP and Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh’s announcement that candidates will be selected on winnability, a number of Congress leaders have pinned themselves down to their constituencies.
Although the elections are still eight months away, some MLAs have already engaged private agencies to survey how well they are placed in their seats. Others have launched mass contact programmes.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MLA from Dera Baba Nanak, has shifted base from Chandigarh to his constituency. “I have locked my house in Mohali and will stay put in my village. It’s not that I have not kept in touch with the constituency,” Randhawa told The Indian Express, “but we need to be present there 24×7.”
Congress MLA Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has settled down in Fatehgarh Churian since he returned from a trip to the US with Amarinder. “I have been in constant touch with my constituency but people expect more of their MLA, especially an Opposition MLA. I am staying put here, attending functions and meeting people,” he said.
Navtej Cheema, chief whip of the party and MLA from Sultanpur Lodhi, said he got a survey done and got an encouraging report. “I need to keep up the tempo on and work harder. I have been in my area constantly for the last four years and more but people always want more,” he said. He added there were certain leaders who did not want others of their party to win. “I want to send out a message that they will all have to work hard to bring the party victory. Otherwise, the individual seats they win will not matter.”
Congress vice president Lal Singh, MLA from Sanaur, has worked out a novel way of stepping up mass contact. He has included in his team a young group of 1,000 who are visiting all houses in villages in his constituency. “AAP is targeting the youth and I too have changed my style of campaign by taking the youth with me. They are working hard and visiting each household,” said Lal Singh, adding that private agencies have been calling up a number of MLAs offering to conduct surveys.
Among those who have stepped up efforts to improve contact with their constituents are former Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar in Abohar, former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, MLAs O P Soni and Gurkirat Singh Kotli, and former MLAs Harminder Gill and Sarabjit Singh Rintu, as well as unsuccessful candidates from the last election, such as Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, brother of former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa.