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In Mansa, no slipstream of progress behind sturdy dissent for rights

🔴 With three constituencies -- Mansa, Budhlada and Sardulgarh – and 5,92,838 registered voters, the district, despite its overwhelming participation in protests for betterment of people’s lives, has lagged in development while struggling to even put an end to farmer distress.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
January 20, 2022 4:12:48 am
Mansa district, Punjab, Punjab latest news, Punjab assembly elections, Punjab polls 2022, SAD, Punjab Congress, indian expressDuring agitation against farm laws, Mansa had sent both farmers and supplies to Delhi border. (Express Photo)

Part of the state’s cotton belt, Mansa district has been long been known for its steady voices of dissent in fights for people’s rights, whether it be the Muzara movement against Patiala Riyasat of yore or the more recent kisan aandolon. It also has many active unions that keep putting their shoulder to the wheel in different agitations. No wonder then, Mansa has on several occasions elected lawmakers from opposition parties. It is, in fact, the only district in Punjab, where people elected a CPI-majority nagar council (Joga) last year. With three constituencies — Mansa, Budhlada and Sardulgarh – and 5,92,838 registered voters, the district, despite its overwhelming participation in protests for betterment of people’s lives, has lagged in development while struggling to even put an end to farmer distress.

MANSA

It is a semi-rural constituency where people largely grow cotton, paddy and vegetables like capsicum, cauliflower. While both these vegetables from Mansa are famous in the state, only a few farmers export it. It is also home to an art centre by farmer, Gurmeet Singh Rathi, who is popular for creating art work using rubber slippers.

Sitting MLA – 2017

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Nazar Singh Manshahia (AAP)

PREVIOUS MLAs

2012: Prem Mittal (SAD)

2007: Sher Singh Gaggowal (Congress)

2002: Sher Singh Gaggowal (Congress)

CANDIDATES

Mansa seat this time has a celebrity candidate Sidhu Moosewala fielded by Congress, who is contesting for the first time. He is attracting many voters due to his fan following. Prem Kumar Arora is the candidate from SAD, while AAP’s candidate is Vijay Singla. The Sanyukt Samaj Morcha has fielded Gurnam Singh Bhikhi.

ISSUES

Water-logging after rain is a major issue in Mansa. Residents had posted many videos on social media after a recent spell of rainfall which happened in the second week of January. Stray cattle are another major issue as it has led to many deaths and residents had even sat on dharna over this issue two years ago. This constituency has only one government college where not even a single teacher is on regular rolls, revealed area residents.

BUDHLADA

Budhlada is largely a rural constituency. Though it has some urban area, but even in these urban colonies people have their occupation connected to farmers. Railway station of Budhlada had a pakka dharna by farmer unions during farm laws agitation and it was largely managed by women. The Beerewala Dogra village of this constituency had recently lost a braveheart, Gurtej Singh, during the Galwan valley during clash with China. This constituency was reserved for SC candidates from 2012 onwards.

Sitting MLA – 2017

Principal Budh Ram (AAP)

PREVIOUS MLAs

2012: Chatin Singh Samao (SAD)

2007: Mangat Ram Bansal (Congress)

2002: Harbant Singh (SAD)

CANDIDATES

Ranvir Kaur Mian is fighting from Congress. She is a first-timer and a PhD, while Dr Nishan Singh Kauldhar is a surgeon contesting from SAD for the second time. AAP has fielded their sitting MLA Principal Budh Ram.

ISSUES

This constituency is dependent on canal water because of contaminated ground water. However, canal water shortage is the major reason behind crop failures which even results in farmer suicides. This constituency touches Haryana border and Ghaggar river passes through the area which has polluted effluents released by Haryana industrialists. Overflow of Ghaggar water in rainy seasons also causes crop damage. In this constituency, Rs 15 crore fund of Punjab Nirman couldn’t be spent which has caused great resentment among the masses.

SARDULGARH

This seat touches Haryana border towards Sirsa district and is largely a rural constituency. The MLA in this constituency has mostly been from the opposition party. Many attribute this to be the reason behind the lack of development. The constituency has Banawali thermal plant which is a private thermal plant.

Sitting MLA – 2017

Dilraj Singh Bhunder (SAD)

PREVIOUS MLAs

2012: Ajit Inder Singh Moffar (Congress)

2007: Ajit Inder Singh Moffar (Congress)

2002: Balwinder Singh Bhunder (SAD)

CANDIDATES

SAD has fileded Dilraj Singh Bhunder, the sitting MLA while Gurpreet Singh Bannawali is contesting on AAP ticket. Gora Singh Mian is from Sanyukt Samaj Morcha. Congress is yet to announce its nominee.

ISSUES

Canal water shortage is once again a issue in Sardulgarh which is an important reason for crop failures followed by farmer suicides. Pollution by Bannawali thermal plant is also a cause of concern. About two years ago, former PPCC president Sunil Kumar Jakhar himself had come to stage a dharna in Sardulgarh on this issue. Sewerage disposal problem and water logging due to rain water are issues here too.

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