Ahead of Punjab elections, candidates pull out all the stops in central Ludhiana

From clicking selfies with voters to engaging star activists, the candidates vying for a Punjab assembly seat in the central constituency of Ludhiana are leaving no stone unturned to woo voters.

Amid restrictions on holding large political rallies, constituency candidates are conducting door-to-door campaigns, nukkad meetings, auto-rickshaws with loudspeakers and pamphlets to win over voters. The constituency has been engulfed in political colors and candidates and their supporters can be seen wandering the narrow streets of the Old City neighborhoods amid the beating of dhol and slogans. Flags of different parties can be seen on buildings in most parts of the Old City including Field Ganj, Prem Nagar, Brown Road, Daresi, Kidwai Nagar and Shahpur Road.

The central constituency of Ludhiana, a Congress stronghold since 2012, will see a quadrilateral contest in the Punjab assembly elections scheduled for February 20. As three-time MP Surinder Dawar fights to retain the seat, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) Gurdev Debi, Pritpal Singh Pali of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Ashok Prashar Pappi of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are pulling out all the stops to break through the bastion. There are about 85 major areas/settlements in the constituency including residential, commercial and mixed areas and industrial areas. The state’s largest transport nagar, civil hospital and areas known as the hub of knitwear/textile including Madhopuri, Bajwa Nagar and New Madhopri also fall under the constituency.

Parties using social networks

Candidates are also using the power of social media to woo voters and lash out at their rivals. According to the candidates, the door-to-door campaign starts early in the morning around 7 or 8 am, after which mohalla or nukkad meetings take place.

Dawar bets on development work

Three-time MLA Surinder Dawar is banking on the development work carried out during his tenure – spanning the ‘ganda nullah’, installing static compactors and building public schools near Suffian chowk and the Millerganj area – to win him another term in the assembly.

Warning voters against his competitors, Pali and Debi, Dawar said: “Tuhanu pta hi hai ohne de baare, ki kuj krde rahe ne‘ (You know for their involvement in notorious activities).

On what he would do if elected to office, Dawar said he would focus on the chronic problems of traffic congestion, waterlogging, civil hospital upgrades; establish a skills development center and address other pressing needs.

A resident of Kidwai Nagar, Jaideep Singh, said, “Dawar is available to residents 24 hours a day and even responds to calls at night, in case of emergency. However, part of the inhabitants also want a change of direction.

Meanwhile, the opposition is targeting the incumbent lawmaker, accusing him of encouraging corruption, the threat of drugs and ignoring chronic problems in the constituency. Debi had lost to Dawar in the 2017 assembly elections by around 20,000 votes, while Prashar and Pali are contesting the elections in the central constituency, which for the first time has more than 1.58 lakh voters. Prashar is a former Dawar ally and left Congress to join the AAP in October 2021.

Debi wants to eradicate the threat of drugs

With The Great Khali wrestler Dalip Singh Rana supporting him, BJP candidate Gurdev Debi was seen waging a powerful, youth-focused campaign. “I want to eradicate the threat of drugs in the constituency, so that young people stay healthy and can contribute to society. Dawar ignored chronic problems such as traffic jams, lack of parking spaces and waterlogging.

Pappi makes a survey board on corruption

Conducting a door-to-door campaign near Iqbal Ganj chowk, AAP candidate Ashok Prashar Pappi was seen asking for votes based on old bonds. He targeted Dawar for encouraging corruption and the threat of drugs.

Pappi was seen hugging voters, taking selfies with them and even giving them his “aam-aadmi” cap. “My family members have been serving residents as advisors for 25 years and we have been associated with the old city neighborhoods from the start, Pappi said, while promising to upgrade education and health infrastructure. and solve the problems of traffic congestion and lack of parking spaces.

SAD-BSP candidate Pritpal Singh Pali was seen asking for votes based on the work he had done as chairman of the management committee of Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib. “I have worked selflessly as chairman of the management committee for about 36 years and my vision is to serve the poor and work for constituency development with transparency.

He also targeted Dawar for encouraging corruption and said that in some areas people were struggling to get clean water.

Traffic congestion, waterlogging and encroachments among major issues

The constituency mainly comprises areas of the old town, where narrow streets, traffic jams, lack of parking spaces, encroachments, illegal constructions and open dumps are among the main problems faced by residents.

Due to decades-old sewage systems and the lack of storm sewers, waterlogging during monsoons has long been a problem.

Open drains crossing the constituency near Shivaji Nagar and Dharampura overflow during monsoons and sewage water accumulates on the roads. MC started work to cover the Shivaji Nagar Nullah last year, while the project to cover the Dharampura nullah was recently approved.

Carriers have been screaming about the pathetic state of road infrastructure and sewers for decades, but to no avail. Water accumulation in sewers and potholed roads can be seen in transport throughout the day. Recently MC started construction of cemented roads in the area but this was not fully covered and no solution was provided for clogged sewer lines.