AS VINOD Kumar, a shopkeeper in Mehraj village of Bathinda district, watched the political developments in Punjab unfold on TV over the past week, he felt bad.
“Mehraj is Capt Amarinder Singh’s native village. We consider him as our own.He is a tall leader, the way he has been shown the door was not justified at all.It is causing harm to the Congress party and with this hurried and unceremonious change of guard, Congress seems to be out of the competition as far as Assembly polls are concerned. They raised the controversy of why a Hindu face for CM and later chose Charanjit Singh Channi, targeting the SC vote bank. A CM needs to be competent. Religion, caste hardly matter to us.”
Harinder Singh Hinda, former Mehraj nagar panchayat president, said, “Though I am an Akali, I didn’t like the way a leader like Amarinder Singh was asked to resign. However, being an Akali leader, I clearly see the upcoming polls now being a competition only between SAD-BSP and AAP. Congress has slipped to no. 3 now. They will continue to fight amongst themselves. In Mehraj, Akalis used to get nearly 25 per cent votes but now we will get more than 60 per cent for sure. This is example of just one village and that too the native place of the former CM. Imagine the equation in all of Punjab.”
Gurchet Singh, former vice-president of Mehraj nagar panchayat, said, “Yes, this time he (Amarinder) couldn’t do as much as he did in 2002-2007. At that time, even the DC of the district used to take special care of his native village.but this time, they didn’t bother. The former CM himself came once in 2017 after winning polls and promised projects worth Rs 27 crore, but nothing has started till date. However, we still feel bad for him. When you oust someone like this, the decision backfires. In 2017, the slogan was ‘Chahunda hai Punjab Captain di sarkar’ instead of ‘Congress di sarkar’. People voted for him in particular when Congress was down and out in the whole country. In 2019 and even 2014 polls, he made Congress a competitor in Punjab when they failed badly in the whole country. Our village always voted for Congress due to Captain. Things will not be the same anymore.”
He added: “If Congress wanted a change of guard, his resignation would have been taken in an amicable manner. This thing will not settle so soon. We have urged our area MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar, who is also Cabinet minister, to take a stand for the former CM. Look at Sidhu, he is not even considering Channi as CM as he is overpowering him everywhere…bickering against each other will cost the party dearly.”
Nirmal Singh, a member of the nagar panchayat, said, “People of Mehraj could go to former CM’s Patiala and Chandigarh offices irrespective of the party they belonged to. Everyone would be treated equally. In this term, he couldn’t do much as he promised. But the party is divided now. They can’t fight against anyone. First they need to sort it out amongst themselves.their loss will be someone else’s gain.”
This nagar has around 14,000 votes and comes under Rampura Phul constituency of Bathinda district. Sikander Singh Maluka, who is SAD’s candidate from Rampura Phul this time, has intensified his poll campaign in the area. Meanwhile, Congress supporters are quiet as of now, said sources. “We are waiting for former CM’s next step. We are also eager to see as what changes the new government will bring about in three months,” added Gurchet Singh.
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