Dakha bypoll: Congress looks to break losing streak, 108 polling stations ‘critical’

Divya Goyal
For the ruling Congress led by CM Captain Amarinder Singh, the Dakha jinx hasn't been broken after 2002 when Malkit Singh Dakha was elected as Congress MLA from Dakha. (File)

The bypoll in Dakha has become a high-stakes battle for ruling Congress with the party failing to manage a single win after 2002 from this Assembly segment, both in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls. It was in 2002 that Congress's Malkit Singh Dakha had won from Dakha and was elected to Punjab Assembly.

The bypoll is also a litmus test for SAD candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali who won Assembly election from Dakha in 2007 but later unsuccessfully contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2017 Punjab Assembly polls. Both the times former AAP leader H S Phoolka got a lead over him in his own segment Dakha.

For the ruling Congress led by CM Captain Amarinder Singh, the Dakha jinx hasn't been broken after 2002 when Malkit Singh Dakha was elected as Congress MLA from Dakha. Then Dakha was a reserved seat.

In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, SAD's Sharanjit Singh Dhillon won Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat and also led from Dakha segment. Then in 2007 Punjab Assembly polls, SAD's Darshan Singh Shivalik won from Dakha. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, even as Congress' Manish Tewari won Ludhiana seat, but he did not win from Dakha segment. Then in 2012 Punjab Assembly polls, Dakha was converted into a general seat and SAD's Manpreet Singh Ayali won from here.

Again in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress's Ravneet Singh Bittu won Ludhiana seat but failed to lead from Dakha and instead AAP's Phoolka led from Dakha. In 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, AAP's Phoolka was elected Dakha MLA and SAD's Manpreet Singh Ayali stood second. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, even as Congress' Bittu managed to win again from Ludhiana, he could not win Dakha. Springing a surprise, it was Lok Insaaf Party of MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains that led from Dakha.

Hoping to break the jinx, Congress has now fielded Captain's former political secretary, Captain Sandeep Sandhu, against a local face SAD's Ayali. AAP has fielded a young dairy farmer, Amandeep Singh Mohi, while LIP has also gone with a local face, Sukhdev Singh Chak. All three opposition parties have alleged that Congress is going all out to 'misuse' administrative and police machinery to ensure a win 'by hook or crook'. The high stakes battle has seen the CM himself campaign here twice whereas in other three constituencies going for a bypoll, he visited just once.

The constituency has drugs as its major issue with several youths here allegedly dying due to it and some villages like Jangpur, Mullanpur, Sawaddi, Kul Gehna etc also being infamous for rampant drug trade in the entire state.

The district administration Sunday said of 220 polling stations, 108 have been declared ‘critical’. A total of 1.84 lakh voters will be deciding fate of 11 candidates in fray from Dakha.

DAKHA WINNERS

Assembly seat

2002: Malkit Singh Dakha (Congress)
2007: Darshan Singh Shivalik (SAD)
2012: Manpreet Singh Ayali (SAD)
2017: HS Phoolka (AAP)

Dakha Segment in Ludhiana LS seat:

2004: SAD's Sharanjit Singh Dhillon led, won LS seat
2009: SAD's Gurcharan Singh Ghalib led, but lost LS seat
2014: AAP's HS Phoolka led, but lost LS seat
2019: LIP's Simarjeet Bains led, but lost LS seat