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December 11, 2017
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Restive Malwa may spring a surpriseMalwa, comprising 69 of the total 117 Assembly segments in Punjab, will decide the fate of several heavyweights and decide who will form the next government in Punjab. It may throw up yet another Chief Minister from the region, be it from the SAD-BJP, the Congress or AAP.

Punjabis all over the world are keenly watching the ‘political Mahabharata’ being played out in Malwa with PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh fighting from Patiala and Lambi, five-time CM Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi,  his son and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, firebrand AAP leader Bhagwant Mann and assassinated CM Beant Singh’s grandson Ravneet Bittu from Jalalabad and former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Finance Minister PS Dhindsa from Lehragaga.

The CM’s ‘estranged’ nephew, Manpreet Badal, is was trying his luck from Bathinda Urban. He is pitted against Sukhbir’s right-hand man Sarup Chand Singla. In Gidderbaha, Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring faces SAD’s Hardip Singh ‘Dimpi Dhillon’, a “lieutinent” of the Deputy CM.  Agriculture Minister Tota Singh is facing a tough challenge from Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh, a three-time MP, and AAP’s Daljit Singh.

Malwa is restive. People say they are yearning for “change.” They complain about the “high-handedness” of halqa chiefs. In almost all constituencies, SAD-BJP candidates have faced voters’ ire with some villages ‘boycotting’ them. Demonetisation seems to have eroded the BJP vote bank. The trading community is angry, and so are the farmers. “Ignored” by the SAD-BJP and the Congress, the Dalits seem to be gravitating towards AAP. 

The support of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda to the ruling alliance has disappointed “Panth” supporters, who feel let down. There are misgivings in the minds of dera followers, too, many of whom are weighing their options— whether or not to go by the dera diktat. 

In all likelihood, the dera vote will be split with some of it going to the Akalis, some to the Congress and some to AAP.  

In Delhi, AAP had emerged victorious, winning 67 of the 70 Assembly seats, despite  the dera backing the BJP.