Punjab

In aftermath of Hans’s exit Congress will have to work overtime to woo Valmiki/ Mazhbi Sikh community (AN EXCLUSIVE STORY)

Rajeev Bhaskar | December 11, 2016 02:38 PM

JALANDHAR: At a time when SAD-BJP alliance and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are already flexing their muscles to woo the Valmiki/ Mazhbi Sikh community, Sufi Singer Hans Raj Hans’s sudden exit from the Congress may cause collateral damage to the party, especially in Doaba region, during the ensuing assembly polls.         

Hans’s well calculated move comes at a time when every political party is looking towards consolidating one of this most important and crucial vote bank in the state. While it is clearly seen as a major shot in arm for the SAD-BJP alliance, the Congress will certainly have to work overtime to reconcile the community, which is demanding half of the reserved seats in the state especially in Doaba region- the home turf of Hans. Community is already demanding Phagwara, Kartarpur, Sham Chaurasi and Adampur seats for its leaders from Congress.    

Politically dominant and organized Valmiki/Mazhbi Sikh community had since long remained an intact vote bank of the Congress party. Elevation of Sardar Buta Singh, an eminent politician of the community to very high positions at national level, helped the party to further strengthen its hold in the community. However, later on lack of proper representation to the community by Congress in the state resulted in alienation of this impeccable vote bank of the party.  The political aware community nurtured a grouse that while the Congress party had used it as a vote bank it had remained apathetic while allocating the political power to them.

The facts presented by the community in support of their claim certainly rings alarming bell for Congress. Despite of heavy concentration of community in Doaba region the Congress party has not fielded any leader of the community from the lone reserved seat of Lok Sabha in Doaba region- Phillaur prior to 2009.

The facts presented by the community in support of their claim certainly rings alarming bell for Congress. Despite of heavy concentration of community in Doaba region the Congress party has not fielded any leader of the community from the lone reserved seat of Lok Sabha in Doaba region- Phillaur prior to 2009.

Even after fresh delimitation in the general elections of 2009 and then in 2014 when number of reserved seats had gone upto two, the party had not bothered to allocate even one seat out of Jalandhar or Hoshiarpur to the community, whereas in both the seats the community was in majority. The sentiments of the community in Doaba region were further hurt when during the Assembly polls of 2012 the Congress party totally ignored the community and not even a single assembly ticket was given to the nominee of the community in the Doaba region. Even the name of three time MLA from Phagwara and former Punjab Minister Joginder Singh Mann was dropped from the list of party candidates in Doaba region.

On the other hand an expert in micro management Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal had played every card in last decade to cash the brewing resentment amongst the community against the Congress. The SAD has made inroads in the community through Atta-Dal Scheme, regularizing the Safai Sewaks across the state, Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Beema Yojna and spending around Rs 200 crore on Sri Valmiki Tirath Sthal (Ram Tirath) besides giving plum postings to leaders of community like Dr, Charanjit Singh Atwal (Speaker Vidhan Sabha), Cabinet Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, Chairman Dalit Welafre Board Vijay Danav, Chairman Safai Karamchari Board Raj Kumar Atikaye and others.

Even recently concluded Bhagwan Valmiki Ji Darshan Yatra has also helped the SAD to firm up its hold over community. In another smart move the SAD has decided to field a relative of Hans Raj Hans and prominent community leader  Paramjit Singh from Kapurthala assembly segment.

Fielding of a candidate from Valmiki/ Mazhbi Sikh community from an unreserved seat assumes significance as it may brighten the prospects of alliance candidates from two districts of Jalandhar and Kapurthala where community has a sizeable presence, which can make or mar the prospects of any party. Notably, both these districts have 14 seats out of total 25 of Doaba region.   

Similarly an expert in caste mathematics, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also zealously working to get the support of community. The party had fielded Jyoti Mann from community in Lok Sabha polls who surprised everybody by bagging more than two lakh votes. Now also the party has fielded a young leader of community Chandan Grewal from Kartarpur assembly segments, who is garnering massive support from across the region.  

Note:

TOTAL SEATS IN DOABA REGION

2002 (25) —Congress 16, SAD 7, BJP 2

2007 (25) - Congress 04, SAD 13, BJP 7, Independent 1

2012 (23) - Congress 06, SAD 11, BJP 5, Independent 1

SC SEATS 

2002- Congress 6, SAD 2

2007- Congress 0, SAD 6, BJP 2

2012- Congress 1, SAD 5, BJP 2  

Congress party gave two seats i.e. Phagwara and Chabbewal to Valmiki/ Majhbi community in 2002 as a result of which Congress came to power in state by winning around 16 seats in Doaba region alone. 

But as the share in seats was reduced to 1 (Phagwara) and zero in year 2007 and 2012 respectively, the Congress was routed out from the region and state in two successive polls.

Riding over the support of community Akali-BJP alliance bagged 25 seats out of total 32 reserved seats in 2012. 

Second Box:

According to the fresh census of the country which took place in the year 2011 around 33% of the population of the state is constituted by the Schedule Castes (SC) community. A significant fact is that out of these 32% more than 54% of the population is constituted by the Valmiki/ Mazhbi Sikh community, which can turn the scales in any party’s favour during the polling.

 

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