Punjab elections: It’s Majithia versus Majithia versus Majithia in Majitha
Chandigarh: A high-profile Majitha Assembly constituency in Punjab’s Majha region has gained prominence for the February 14 poll owing to Majithia versus Majithia versus Majithia — three namesakes in the fray — and one among them is facing serious allegations of involvement in drug nexus.
The high-profile Assembly constituency is the citadel of ‘Majhe da Jarnail’ and former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) revenue minister and sitting legislator Bikram Singh Majithia, Congress turncoat and AAP candidate Sukhjinder Raj Singh, alias Lalli Majithia, who lost two consecutive Assembly polls to the Akali leader, and his younger brother and Congress first-time candidate Jagwinder Pal Singh, alias Jagga Majithia, 59.
A multi-cornered contest is on the cards with Congress turncoat Bhagwant Pal Sachar, who was president of the District Congress Committee (Rural) and believed to be close to Congress state chief Navjot Sidhu, joined the BJP after his claim for the candidature was denied by the Congress. He’s likely to be the BJP candidate from this seat.
The contest is among the SAD, the Congress, AAP and the BJP. The BJP has an alliance with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and the SAD (Sanyukt), and farm leader Balbir Singh Rajewal’s Sanyukt Samaj Morcha.
This time the stakes are all the more high due to the entry of several parties, compared to the triangular contest in 2017 in Majitha, part of the Amritsar parliamentary seat.
Up against his elder brother, Jagga Majithia, told IANS on Monday that when his brother Lalli Majithia was in the fray in the past two Assembly polls he was the main campaigner.
“Nobody knows him in the constituency as he’s not a social worker. I was the main campaigner in all his previous elections and I stood with my constituents even when there was no election. No one will vote for him as he kept his doors shut for the public,” he said.
Before joining AAP, Lalli Majithia, a confidant of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, resigned as chairman-cum-director of the Punjab State Grains Procurement Corporation Ltd (Pungrain) on December 30.
On the day of Majithia joining AAP, its leader Raghav Chadha said the Majitha constituency is usually a fixed match with a compromise candidate against SAD candidate Bikram Majithia by the Congress and to return the favour a weaker candidate given by the SAD against Capt Amarinder Singh.
“Not anymore! AAP fields a political stalwart Lalli Majithia, a force to reckon with,” state party co-in-charge Chadha tweeted.
In 2017, the AAP had fielded Himmet Singh Shergill, who faced a humiliating defeat by garnering just 10,252 votes, compared to the winner’s total 65,803 votes. At that time Arvind Kejriwal vowed to send him to jail if the party came into power.
The younger brother of former Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and brother-in-law of former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, sitting legislator Bikram Majithia, who is the eye of storm again, was summoned by Enforcement Directorate in 2014 for investigating the money laundering link in the Rs 6,000 crore international synthetic drugs racket busted by the Punjab Police in 2013.
In the latest drugs case, he got interim protection from arrest from the Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 10 in the case registered against him by the Punjab Police in Mohali on December 20.
He was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, including Sections 25 (punishment for allowing premises), 27 (A) (whoever is financing any activities pertaining to narcotic drugs) and 29 (party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence).
Bikram Majithia, one of the most powerful Akali leaders, is also facing allegations of having links with certain NRIs who have been accused of international money laundering related to the massive drugs racket.
Responding to the recent drug case against Majithia, SAD patriarch and five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that he was apprehending such an action by the Congress government.
Daring the state Congress government to arrest him, elderly Badal told the media that, “Congress governments have always tried to weaken Punjab and the Akali Dal. Whenever I was the chief minister, I never troubled any Congress leader.”
Bikram Majithia, who is educated at the Lawrence School in Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh, was elected MLA from this seat in 2017 with a margin of 22,884 votes, lower than a margin of 47,581 he had got in 2012. He won this seat in 2007 too. His father Sardar Satyajit Singh Majithia is a former Deputy Defence Minister.
In the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, the Congress had won an absolute majority by winning 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.
The AAP had emerged as the second-largest party, winning 20 seats. SAD won 15 seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had a coalition government with the Akali Dal in Punjab from 2007 to 2017, secured three seats.