In the course of their campaigns in Bathinda, Union Minister and SAD candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her Congress opponent and MP Amarinder Raja Warring have been at the receiving end of local residents’ questions and protests.
Recently, a few youths from Dharampura village of Mansa’s Budhlada area wanted to ask five questions to Harsimrat who had come to appeal for votes.
Jagwinder Singh Grewal, who was with the AAP till September 2018, then supported the Khaira group and now claims to be a social activist, told The Indian Express, “I am president of the Yuvak Sewawan Club of the village. I along with 20 more members of the club wanted to ask the SAD candidate five questions and we told this to while she was on stage. When she ended her speech, we wanted to go and talk to her, but Gurdeep Singh Toddapur, president of the Youth Akali Dal Mansa and Gyan Singh Zaildar, former chairman of the market committee, Bareta, stopped us and told us to have a discussion with her in her car. Even police started stopping us. Later, we were told not to upload the conversation on social media.”
“Finally we agreed to switch off social media, but we wanted to talk to her in public. SAD leaders insisted that we talk in private. We did not agree and in the meantime, she left for the next village. If she cannot face simple questions from villagers, how is she going to represent us in Parliament,” he asked.
Later, in a Facebook Live session, Grewal spelt out his five questions: “The sitting MP had come to our village in October 2015 and laid foundation stone for 324 toilets to be built for Dalit families under the Centre’s scheme. However, till March 2018, no work started in this project. For 15 months after the laying of foundation stone, the SAD-BJP government was in power. After March 2018, only 80 toilets were built. I wanted to ask why she (Harsimrat) wasted the village’s money on the inauguration.”
He further asked: “Secondly, our village does not have proper staff in the government hospital and school for the past ten years. I wanted to question her on this as she cannot blame the state government as this is a problem for the past 10 years when the SAD-BJP was in power. In addition to this, the former CM, about 10-15 years back, had stated that he will work only on Re 1 salary, but why is he taking Rs 5 lakh pension now? Why did the SAD-BJP government not punish the culprits of sacrilege during their tenure.”
Another local resident, Balla Singh, said, “We will be asking questions to all candidates who come to seek votes as per their party’s promises and will vote only for the one who will give a convincing reply.”
Sources said Harsimrat was also questioned by villagers in Khamiana village in Bathinda, and was shown black flags by Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj members in Bathinda city area.
Meanwhile, Warring, who is already mired in controversy over the recent allegation of bribing an AAP worker with Rs 50,000, faced protests Saturday afternoon in Kokhar Kalan and Jeond villages where local residents were annoyed with Congress leader Harminder Jassi for not visiting the area after losing in the 2017 state polls.
At Khokar Kalan, two youths also questioned Warring as to why they were not being given unemployment allowance. Warring allowed them to speak on the microphone and later told them, “You can go to my constituency in Gidderbaha and later in SAD Patron Parkash Singh Badal’s constituency Lambi. You can take feedback of the work done in my area and Badal’s area. If you get negative feedback about me, you can gherao me.”
In Jeond village, his supporters asked local residents not to put theirs conversation on social media although the discussion happened in public.
SAD candidate from Faridkot Gulzar Singh Ranike was gheraoed by villagers of Ghania when he went for vote appeal. They asked him why the NDA did not implement the Swaminathan Report despite making promises. In addition to this, villagers also asked where “the Rs 15 lakh that Modi had promised to put in the accounts of the poor, had gone?”.
Ranike told villagers that he is contesting his first election and will be able to reply once he is sent to Parliament. However, he had to go back when villagers were not ready to accept his answer. In Kotkapura, Ranike faced protests three days ago when he was accompanied by former SAD MLA Mantar Singh Brar. Protesters showed them black flags and said people cannot forget the sacrilege incidents during the SAD-BJP rule.