Gur­daspur Lok Sabha by­poll: Dussehra and Ramlila turn vote-catch­ers as CM leads way

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - PUNJAB - Vinay Dhin­gra let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

PATHANKOT: With an eye on the siz­able Hindu vote in Pathankot dis­trict that has three of the nine as­sem­bly seg­ments that fall un­der the Gur­daspur Lok Sabha seat — which will see a by­poll on Oc­to­ber 11 — po­lit­i­cal par­ties are seek­ing to strike the re­li­gious chord.

While the Congress is get­ting a push from CM Cap­tain Am­rinder Singh who will at­tend the Dussehra cel­e­bra­tions at the Pathankot sta­dium on Satur­day, party can­di­date Su­nil Jakhar has the fa­mous Ramlila at Kali Mata Mandir in Pathankot on his itin­er­ary for the day. Here, the stage is usu­ally an­chored by former BJP min­is­ter Mas­ter Mo­han Lal who ear­lier used to play the role of Ra­vana.

It is learnt that af­ter the news of the CM’s plan, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) can­di­date Maj Gen­eral Suresh Kha­juria is also sched­uled to at­tend the fes­ti­val at Di­nana­gar.

And BJP can­di­date Swaran Salaria will at­tend the Dussehra at Man­wal vil­lage in Su­jan­pur seg­ment. The vil­lage is a stronghold of his Ra­jput com­mu­nity. Hin­dus con­sti­tute the ma­jor­ity in the LS seg­ment by a thin mar­gin ahead of Sikhs, and the Ra­jput com­mu­nity is a ma­jor force within that bracket.

The town has a his­tory of Ramlila and pol­i­tics be­ing in­ter­twined. Former Congress MLA Ashok Sharma is still play­ing the role of Lord Rama at the Ramlila grounds.

“Cap­tain Am­rinder Singh is go­ing to at­tend Dussehra for the first time here, and we are happy as it is go­ing to help our can­di­date Su­nil Jakhar,” said Amit Vij, Pathankot MLA. “Be­fore that, he will also meet ex-ser­vice­men in the area, which will fur­ther strengthen our po­si­tion.”

He stressed that the visit must not be seen as seek­ing votes on re­li­gious lines, “We are not tar­get­ing the Hindu vot­ers but only aim­ing to win the seat for the ben­e­fit of the re­gion.” He fur­ther said, “The Congress has never ruled on the ba­sis of caste or re­li­gion, which ac­tu­ally re­mains the prime agenda of the BJP.”

JAKHAR CHAL­LENGES SALARIA, SAMPLA

Claim­ing that Gur­daspur’s peo­ple will see through Shi­ro­mani Akali Dal (SAD’s) and the BJP’s at­tempt to di­vert at­ten­tion from real is­sues, Pun­jab Congress pres­i­dent and party can­di­date for the by­poll said per­sonal at­tacks on him ex­hib­ited to­tal des­per­a­tion.

Jakhar started his cam­paign for the by­poll on Fri­day with a road show of hun­dreds of cars and mo­tor bikes from Nan­gal to Ghiala vil­lage. He also ad­dressed var­i­ous work­ers’ meet­ing.

On Thurs­day, Union min­is­ter and state BJP pres­i­dent Vi­jay Sampla, in an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to lack of de­vel­op­ment in Jakhar’s home­town Abo­harhad said, “Jakhar’s in-laws live in Switzer­land, even as his home town, Abo­har, did not even a bus ser­vice.”

“Peo­ple do not want to hear such ir­rel­e­vant non­sense, they only want to hear about things like good health care, ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and es­sen­tial com­modi­ties at low prices.” he added. “I chal­lenge both Sampla and Salaria to a de­bate on se­ri­ous is­sues in­stead of mak­ing friv­o­lous state­ments,” he added.

HT PHOTO

A hoard­ing about the CM at­tend­ing Dussehra at the Pathankot sta­dium.

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