Congress rebel Jaswinder Dhiman Thursday started village level meetings in Sangrur from where he will be contesting the Lok Sabha election against official party candidate Kewal Singh Dhillon.
Jaswinder, incidentally, launched the meetings from Barnala Assembly segment from where Dhillon had unsuccessfully contested the 2017 state election.
“I don’t know what thermometer is the party using to test the popularity of a candidate and their hard work. From this Lok Sabha, they have given the ticket to a person (Dhillon) who mostly remains in Chandigarh or Delhi and not to the one who is actually working in the field,” Jaswinder tells locals at village Lalgarh.
Jaswinder is the son of Congress’s Amargarh lawmaker Jagjit Singh Dhiman. Soon after the Congress announced the name of Dhillon, considered a close aide of Chief minister Amarinder Singh, as party candidate from Sangrur, Jaswinder, who too had applied for party ticket, announced that he will contest as an Independent.
Amarinder on Tuesday met his father to resolve the issue, but the MLA told the CM that he could not do anything if Jaswinder decides to go ahead with his decision. “He has his own political ambitions. He has been working in the constituency for over a year and half. What can I do if my son contests? I cannot break my family. Family takes precedence over party,” the MLA had told The Indian Express after the meeting. A day later he announced that if the Congress wants, he will resign from the party and Assembly membership.
The Dhiman family has claimed that the other backward castes (OBCs) have been denied representation both in the Punjab cabinet and in the tickets allotted to the candidates.
“Out of the 11 seats for which names have been declared, they have not given even one to a candidate from the youth congress, OBC, Valmiki or Aggarwal community. Only those people have got tickets who are considered close to the high command. Those working hard at the ground level, have been denied,” Jaswinder said.
Though son of a sitting MLA, Jaswinder also raised the issue of dynasts. “He father was a daily wage labourer with no political background. It was with sheer hard work that he first won the Assembly polls from Dirba and now Amargarh. We don’t having the background of dynastic politics like most of the other ticket seekers”.
Jaswinder said he had been working in Sangrur for the past two years after CM Amarinder Singh “asked me to start working here if I wanted to contest Lok Sabha polls” from this area. “I am a ticket seekers. I don’t want to sit idle if the ticket is allotted to someone else. I will move from village to village. The masses will decide on my future course of action. I am a leader because of them. If they tell me to contest, I will contest, otherwise I will sit back at home,” he said when asked if he will file nominations as an Independent.
The 13 Lok Sabha seats of Punjab go to polls in the last phase on May 19.
Jaswinder also went to several other villages where he asked locals as to how many times Dhillon have visited them. “While choosing a candidate, the party needs to seek public response as they are the ones who give votes. But it is not the case. Ticket is given to someone who remains in hiding and appears all of a sudden to contest polls. He later disappears again,” Jaswinder said.
While Dhillon was not available for comments despite repeated attempts, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said, “CM has spoken to Jagjit Singh Dhiman and explained why ticket was allotted to Dhillon. I think, better sense will prevail upon the young man (Jaswinder) and they will work hard for the victory of party”.
He added,”I can understand that people do feel disheartened when denied ticket. There were 175 applicants for 13 seats. Tickets can be given to only 13. The rest have to walk with the party as dedicated soldiers. I am hopeful that Jaswinder will withdraw his campaign”.