The assembly contest in the Amritsar East constituency is being seen as the mother of all electoral battles in Punjab with heavyweights -- state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia -- in the fray for the February 20 assembly polls.
The BJP has fielded former IAS officer Jagmohan Singh Raju, who served for 35 years in Tamil Nadu, while the Aam Aadmi Party nominated Jeevanjot Kaur. The contest took a keen turn when Majithia said he will not fight from the Majitha assembly seat, and will only contest from Amritsar East to take on Sidhu.
The stakes will be high for both Sidhu and Majithia, who are pitted against each other for the first time in any electoral battle, and the war of words has already intensified between the two leaders. “They have come only to play spoilsport, but in this 'Dharam Yudh', they will not succeed because where there is 'Dharma' there is victory", Sidhu recently said as he attacked the Akalis.
Majithia, on his part, has reminded Sidhu about lack of development in the Amritsar East constituency despite remaining an MP from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat and later as minister in the Congress government. “It is not about winning or losing. It is about duty and to teach an arrogant person to love and respect people,” said Majithia.
Majithia said he will come out with a “charge sheet” on lack of development and unfulfilled promises in Amritsar East. “The roads are still broken, there is a poor sewerage system…Where is the promised sports stadium. He (Sidhu) was never available for people and kept his doors shut," he said. In the 2017 assembly polls too, the election to this Assembly seat was keenly watched after Sidhu jumped into the fray as a Congress candidate from Amritsar East, which at that time was held by the former cricketer's wife Navjot Kaur.
The Sidhu couple had then switched over from the BJP to the Congress. A defeat for Sidhu this time could severely impact his political ambition and Majithia runs the risk of losing face if he bites the dust against his sworn foe as it will be a make or mar contest for both the leaders.
After the SAD was being frequently targeted by the Congress leaders over the registration of an NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) case against Majithia, the party chief Badal shifted the gears and decided to take political opponents head on by fielding his brother-in-law against Sidhu, saying the “arrogance” of the state Congress chief has to be shattered.
Majithia's wife Ganieve Kaur will now contest from Majithia constituency in Amritsar. Aam Aadmi Party's Kaur, who is in the fray from Amritsar East constituency, has slammed Sidhu and Majithia for indulging in verbal spat and neglecting public issues.
“They (Sidhu and Majithia) are fighting only to humiliate each other and they have nothing to do with the issues and sentiments of people of this constituency,” Kaur told PTI. On Majithia entering the fray from Amritsar East seat, she said he “cheated” people of the Majitha assembly constituency.
“When people elect you as their representative it does not mean you leave them midway just to settle your scores,” she said. Taking on Sidhu, she said, “I fail to understand a person who calls himself as the biggest celebrity but could not get even a small work done in his constituency.”
Highlighting the pathetic condition of the Amritsar East segment, she said, “This is one of the most neglected constituencies.” “If you see the condition of the constituency, roads are broken, problem of drinking water,” she said as counts innumerable problems this constituency is facing.
Kaur said, “We are only raising issues concerning people and development of this area.” Amidst war of words between Sidhu and Majithia, Kejriwal recently said the public issues of the Assembly segment are getting buried because of their verbal spat, adding people have nothing to do with it and they are concerned about basic issues of electricity, drinking water, roads and schools.
BJP candidate and former bureaucrat and political greenhorn Raju said Punjab deserves serious players for restoring its glory as he expressed anguish over the verbal spat between the politicians. He also emphasised on the maintenance of law and order for the state's economic development.
The Amritsar East constituency, which is largely an urban seat, came into existence in 2012 after delimitation. Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu became MLA on the BJP ticket in 2012. In 2017, Sidhu contested from Amritsar East and won by a margin of more than 40,000 votes after defeating BJP nominee Rajesh Kumar Honey.
Majithia, a three-time-MLA, has been representing the Majithia assembly seat since 2007.
With inputs from PTI.