A Pakhowal-based doctor, Dr Devinder Ashok, who had voted for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, says he is a dejected man. His grouse is that most villagers in his area voted for then AAP candidate Harinder Singh Khalsa, who had emerged victorious.
“But the experiment to hand over the reins to a new party by ditching traditional parties failed badly that we feel angry today. Khalsa ikk din vi nahi aya constituency vich. Ikk paisa ni kharch kita (Khalsa did not come for a single day in Fatehgarh Sahib constituency. He did not spend a single penny from his MPLAD fund,” says Dr Ashok.
An “absent MP” is the biggest issue in the constituency that voted for Khalsa by giving him 3,67,293 votes (a victory margin of over 55,000 votes). Khalsa was later suspended by AAP for rebelling against the party and joined BJP recently.
Dr Amar Singh, a former principal secretary to ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, has been fielded by Congress against against SAD’s Darbara Singh Guru, also a former principal secretary to ex-Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Apart from an “absent MP”, sacrilege, lack of development, good educational institutes, good roads and unemployment are several other issues that are playing on the minds of people.
“AAP da bulla aya si. Lokan nu umeed si badlao di. Par kuj nahi hoya. AAP ton koi ummed nahi, Akaliyan nu beadbi ne maar leya. Hun Congress nu votan pa devange. Ohna de dhai saal aje paye ne. (There was an AAP wave. We were hoping for a change. We have no hope from AAP, Akalis have a blot of sacrilege. Now we will vote for Congress. They still have over two years in Punjab),” said Darshan Singh, a resident of Tolewal village.
Hargopal Singh, another resident of Amargarh, said, “We had not seen him even for a day before the 2014 election. Yet we voted for him. There was not a single polling booth put up by him. We trusted him and he ditched us. We do not have local buses, roads are in bad shape.”
Both Dr Amar Singh and Darbara Singh Guru have promised the electorate to “serve” the people and give the constituency a bright future.
While Guru says “Dr Singh is an outsider” , the latter has been challenging Guru to list works done by him.
In his speech to the electorate, Dr Amar Singh recalls how he was born to a poor father, rose to become a doctor and later became an IAS officer. “This country has given me so much. It is pay back time. I want to serve the people,” he says.
He tells the electorate that he had done a lot of work while preparing the NREGA scheme and Food Security Act, something AICC president Rahul Gandhi too had said while addressing a rally recently.
Guru is seeking votes on issues of national security, a strong prime minister and a “bright future” for the constituency.
AAP has changed its candidates twice in the constituency. Former PPCC president and Rajya Sabha member Shamsher Singh Dullo’s son Bandeep Dullo is the AAP candidate. Earlier, Dullo’s wife Harbans Kaur Dullo had been given the ticket.
Fatehgarh Sahib Lok Sabha constituency has over 10 lakh voters and comprises nine assembly segments including Bassi Pathana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amloh, Khanna, Samrala, Sahnewal, Payal, Raikot and Amargarh. Seven of these are in the Congress kitty, while SAD and AAP have one each.