Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badals constituency wise election strategy,along with fielding a record number of 10 Hindu candidates especially in urban constituencies sailed the partys boat through in the recent Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls. Even out of the 34 reserved seats,the SAD-BJP combine won 24.
Sukhbir also sprang a surprise by fielding Ludhiana-based Hindu leader Prem Mittal from Mansa and Delhi-based liquor baron Deep Malhotra from Faridkot. They both won in Congress strongholds.
According to sources,SAD chief zeroed in on 68 seats and studied every aspect beginning from the area,percentage of votes of different castes,selection of suitable candidates,representation of every section of the society from a politician to a businessman besides encouraging Congress and BSP rebels as well as influential independents.
The argument behind swapping of seats was that as there was no apparent anti-incumbency against the ruling alliance,anti-incumbency of the representative of a constituency will not be an issue. It was also felt that voters have a general inclination towards new candidates.
The marginal victory of Avinash Chander and Sarwan Singh Phillaur against Doabas famous Chaudhary brothers Santokh Singh and Jagjit Singh and Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas and Iqbal Singh Jhoonda in Sangrur district are the best examples of Sukhbirs idea.
In a resolution passed in the party core committee meeting on Thursday,SAD had especially thanked the Dalits and weaker sections of the society. It was also thankful to various sections including former servicemen,farmers,farm labourers,employees,NRIs,traders,industrial workers and industrialists,the resolution stated.
Around 17 lakh families get subsidised wheat and pulses under the atta-dal scheme implemented in August 2007. The families get 25 kg atta at the rate of Rs 4 per kg and 2.5 kg of pulses at Rs 20 per kg.
Following reports of Dalits having supported the SAD in large numbers in the last Lok Sabha elections,the government had increased the number of beneficiaries by a few lakhs. The SAD-BJP combine used this scheme as a prominent campaign issue while wooing the Dalit community.
The campaign had its effect with a sizeable Dalit population voting for the SAD-BJP for the first time.
According to sources,SAD also benefitted from the Congress delay in allotment of tickets,its number of rebels and
unnecessary swapping of seats.