Jalalabad (Fazilka): Punjab's Deputy Chief
Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is expected to have a smooth
sailing in the assembly polls from Jalalabad constituency,
where he is up against a political greenhorn of Congress, but
the question is can he better his own record margin of win set
three years ago?
Sukhbir is relying mainly on the development works in the
constituency bordering Pakistan and the promises he is making
to voters to transform this predominantly agrarian area into
another urban hub like Chandigarh while his challengers are
hoping that community allegiance would lead to an upset.
Badal's main challenger is Congress' candidate Mukhtiar
Singh who belongs to Rai Sikh community. But the Deputy Chief
Minister's task might have been made a little easier by the
presence of two Congress rebel contestants who are depending
on en bloc votes from their respective communities.
Sukhbir had won from Jalalabad by a record margin of over
80,000 votes during the by-elections held in 2009.
In the by-poll, Sukhbir had defeated Hans Raj Jossan of
Congress. However, Jossan, who had been a minister during
the previous Congress rule, is this time contesting as an
independent candidate. Jossan had won the 1992 and 2002
assembly elections from this seat.
Not only Jossan has revolted against the party's decision
to field a new face, another rebel Congress leader Gurbir
Singh Sandhu, who was DCC President, is also in the fray
making things more difficult for Mukhtiar Singh.
Mukhtiar is banking mainly on the support of his own
community who have sizeable chunk of around 55,000 votes in
While Mukhtiar represents Rai Sikhs, Jossan belongs to
Kamboj community and Sandhu represents Jatt Sikhs.
Both Kamboj and Jatt Sikhs also enjoy significant
presence here, which could be a matter of concern for Sukhbir
if community loyalty plays a major role in polling pattern.
Though Sukhbir is hopeful of repeating the similar
performance this time too, things might not be as easy or as
comfortable what it seems to be.
Residents of the constituency feel that while the basic
infrastructure, including water supply, sewerage network
besides construction of link roads to villages has seen an
improvement in the last three years, the town still retains an
agrarian look devoid of any major industry.
Sukhbir has even managed to rope in few senior Congress
leaders like Ashok Aneja President Municipal Committee who
along with his supporters has pledged unconditional support to
Sukhbir is promising world class health infrastructure
for this border town of Jalalabad, saying he would bring
Chandigarh PGI-like institution here in the next five years
He has also promised to make Jalalabad an international
rice hub, set up an university here and promised to get a
separate border area package so that multinational companies
could be attracted to set up their ventures in this area to
open new vistas of employment for local youth.
Sukhbir has also promised to have the opening ceremony
for next edition of World Cup Kabaddi in this town.
"My aim is to bring Jalalabad on world tourist map and
make it another Chandigarh so that every resident of the city
can feel proud of this border town" says Sukhbir.
But not everyone is impressed by the promises of
developmental works by SAD and pointed out that several
projects announced by Sukhbir earlier are yet to see the
light of the day.