Given second chance by SAD, tough road ahead for Babbehali - ECAS Punjab

Given second chance by SAD, tough road ahead for Babbehali

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Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 6

Former Gurdaspur MLA Gurbachan Singh Babbehali has been reappointed as Gurdaspur district SAD president for the second successive term. He will be facing a dual challenge as he not only has to ensure that the otherwise disjointed party cadre is kept together but also has to keep the Congress at bay.

Ever since former ministers Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sucha Singh Langah were relegated to political sidelines and with former Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon plagued with multiple health problems, the SAD is not the force to reckon with it once was. In the 2017 polls, the Congress won six of the seven seats, thus virtually decimating the Akalis in this district, once considered to be their stronghold.

To complicate matters, the party decided to break its alliance with the BJP, thus plunging itself into more trouble.

Babbehali, notwithstanding his astuteness as a politician, will have to defy the odds in the seats of Dera Baba Nanak and Qadian, where the Akalis find themselves on a weak wicket. In Dera Baba Nanak, Langah was once the party’s supreme leader, till a sleaze video was released by his detractors ahead of the 2017 Gurdaspur parliamentary bypoll. In Qadian, Sekhwan was the party’s face till he was forced to quit following his differences with Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The BJP has a strong presence in the Gurdaspur and Batala seats, and with party deciding to go it alone in the next polls, the Akalis are bound to have a harrowing time.

In Sri Hargobindpur (reserved) seat, the party is faced with the prospect of its rapidly dwindling cadre. In the 2017 elections, the SAD had to bring an outsider — Manjit Singh Manna — to contest after failing to arrive at a consensus on a local candidate. Ever since then, the situation has not changed much. Babbehali also faces a tough assignment in Dinanagar, where the BJP holds a substantial vote bank. When the seat sharing agreement was in place, this seat was always given to the BJP to contest because of the strong presence of the RSS cadre.

Babbehali has gone on record as saying that “he will do his best to wipe out the Congress”. This task is easier said than done because post the farm Acts, the Congress has evoked much sympathy among the voters.

It is only in Fatehgarh Churian that the Akalis find themselves on a firm footing, with youth leader Ravi Karan Kahlon leading the charge from the front.

from The Tribune

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