The three constituencies in Mohali — Derabassi, Kharar and Mohali — are set to witness a multi-cornered contest during Sunday’s Assembly poll, which will also see the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contesting solo and the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SSM) throwing its hat in the ring for the first time ever.
The traditional parties — the Congress and the SAD and the AAP — are locked in a fierce competition in all the three constituencies, with experts stating that there were no clear crowd favourites at the time campaigning wound up on Friday.
In Mohali, Congress has fielded three-time MLA and former minister, Balbir Singh Sidhu, while the AAP has fielded former Mohali Mayor, Kulwant Singh. The SAD had fielded former councillor, Parvinder Singh Sohana, while BJP has reposed faith in industrialist Sanjiv Vashist. The SSM’s choice from the seat is Ravneet Brar.
Mohali has traditionally been a Congress bastion, but this time Balbir Sidhu is likely to face stiff competition from the AAP. The SAD too has a base in the constituency as the party had contested the elections in alliance with the BJP till 2017. The BJP on the other side has tried to woo the urban voters in its favour, while the SSM has gone the opposite route and tried to impress farmers.
Balbir Sidhu, a two time MLA from Mohali, has a hold in the rural belt while his younger brother Amarjeet Singh Sidhu is the current Mayor of Mohali. Sources, however, said that the anti-incumbency in various pockets, including some villages, may end up becoming Sidhu’s undoing during Sunday’s polling.
AAP’s Kulwant Singh, a former mayor of Mohali, is banking on a wave in favour of his party to take him to the finish line. Sources said that Singh’s grip in rural areas is considered weak as compared to Sidhu, but in urban areas he is hoping to bag a good number of votes.
The colonies and the urban voters, on the other hand, are considered the BJP’s strength. But the party has found it hard to impress upon the rural voters, despite having fielded Sanjiv Vashist, who has a clean image.
SSM’s Ravneet Brar, on the other hand, has focused his energies mostly on mobilising rural voters, with his campaigns often taking place in the villages and the year-long farm agitation being a key theme that he touched upon while at the centre stage.
In Derabassi, with the BJP’s entry, the sitting two-time MLA, NK Sharma, may face a division of votes. Zirakpur, sources said, is Sharma’s stronghold, where he is believed to have a a personal connect with the voters and has conducted a lot developmental work.
Congress’ Derabassi pick, Deepinder Dhillon, is hoping to cash in on the division of Sharma’s votes. This time the Congress is in power in the civic bodies which is considered his strong point but his track-record of losing the elections twice in the past is considered his weakness.
AAP’s nominee, Kuljeet Randhawa, who was with the Congress earlier, may, however, divide the Congress votes and his presence in the area in the past is considered as his strong point. However, Randhawa failed to highlight the important issues plaguing his area of offer any solutions to them, during his campaign trail, may end up costing him votes.
In Kharar, where Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi also resides, the contest is between Congress, SAD and AAP. The AAP had won the seat in 2017 but party MLA Kanwar Sandhu remained missing after his election victory. AAP’s weak point is the performance of the party’s former MLA, while SAD’s nominee, Ranjit Singh Gill, has been active in the area in the past five years is hoping to win the seat. Gill managed to win the civic bodies in Nayagaon – a crucial town — but a division of votes may go against him.
Congress’s Vijay Sharma Tinku is a first timer candidate and is banking on CM Channi’s image and on his closeness to the Chief Minister to sway voters.