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Channi, Mann, Captain or Badal – Who'll Win? News18's Ground Reports as Punjab Set to Vote

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: February 08, 2022, 17:17 IST

The opinion polls predicted that the Punjab assembly elections will be a two-horse race with pollsters favouring the AAP over the Congress in many cases. (Image: PTI/Twitter)

The opinion polls predicted that the Punjab assembly elections will be a two-horse race with pollsters favouring the AAP over the Congress in many cases. (Image: PTI/Twitter)

Punjab is all set for its February 20 assembly poll battle among the political bigwigs – Congress's Charanjit Singh Channi, AAP's Bhagwant Mann, SAD's Sukhbir Singh Badal, along with Captain Amarinder Singh. Who will Punjab pick this time?

Punjab is all set for its February 20 assembly poll battle among the political bigwigs.

After much suspense, the Congress, on February 6, announced the name of Charanjit Singh Channi over Navjot Singh Sidhu as the CM face. “A man from a poor family has been chosen,” said Rahul Gandhi as he made the announcement at a virtual rally in politically significant Malwa region. Gandhi’s emphasis on Channi’s background indicated the party has its caste matrix worked out. The party feels the “sympathy card” due to the Enforcement Directorate raids and the arrest of his nephew, with Channi saying his three-decade career is spotless, could work in its favour.

Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) CM face Bhagwant Mann, who was picked after a public poll, has the task to prove his leadership mantle. Mann’s trajectory in the party will rely heavily on whether he is able to lead it to victory. The opinion polls have pitched incumbent CM Channi against Mann.

For the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Sukhbir Singh Badal remains the CM face, as the party goes into the election on the basis of their performance during their 2007-2017 tenure. The party is using its fight over farm laws to show the electorate how they stand by them.

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For former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who filed his nomination papers from his stronghold Patiala through his Punjab Lok Congress, it is a do-or-die battle for political survival.

Who will the voters pick?

Ground reports from News18.com reporters that best capture the poll pulse:

  1. POLL OF POLLS: PUNJAB BATTLE TWO-HORSE RACE?
    The battle for Punjab may just turn out to be a two-horse race with pollsters favouring the AAP over the Congress in many cases, CNN-News18’s ‘poll of polls’ showed on Friday. While polls predict it to be a fight between incumbent CM Charanjit Singh Channi and AAP’s CM face Bhagwant Mann, it could also be a scenario where no party gets a clear majority and may need help from others to form the government. Pollsters have recorded opinions on the performance of four major contenders — Congress, AAP, Shiromani Akali Dal, and the BJP in alliance with Captain Amarinder Singh’s new party Punjab Lok Congress. READ FULL STORY
  2. ‘NO RIFT IN CONGRESS’
    Denying the speculation that the announcement of Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief ministerial candidate could trigger “unrest” among supporters of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, senior leader and MLA from Doaba Pargat Singh said ‘Team Punjab Congress’ will put up a joint fight in the elections. Talking exclusively to News18.com during his campaign trail, Singh, a close associate of Navjot Singh Sidhu, denied a rift in the party. “Remaining united has been our forte."  READ FULL STORY
  3. MEETING THE BADALS
    Sukhbir Singh Badal is the chief ministerial face of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab elections, 94-year-old Parkash Singh Badal told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview, adding that there was no question of the SAD going back to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the “SAD believes in certain principles”. CNN-News18 travelled to Badal village in Lambi to meet the Badal father-son duo at their residence, as Parkash Singh Badal, a five-time CM, has again entered the election race from Lambi. “There is clarity on the CM face – it will be Sukhbir Singh Badal. Not like the CM (Charanjit Singh Channi) who is fighting on one side and his brother on the other,” the senior Badal said in an exclusive interview. READ FULL STORY
  4. I’M READY WITH RANGLA PUNJAB MODEL: MANN
    Punjab chief minister (CM) Charanjit Singh Channi is fighting the elections from two seats as he is scared, and he will lose from both Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur, Aam Aadmi Party’s CM face Bhagwant Mann told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview in Dhuri. “Meanwhile, I have a ‘Rangla Punjab’, a model full of joy and glory, ready, glimpses of which will be seen within three-four months of me becoming the CM,” he said. CNN-News18 went on a campaign trail with Mann as he went from village-to-village in Dhuri, the assembly constituency from which Mann decided to contest after being declared the CM face of his party. READ FULL STORY
  5. CHANNI PUNJAB’S BIGGEST SAND MAFIA: SUKHBIR BADAL
    Punjab chief minister (CM) Charanjit Singh Channi is the biggest sand mafia in the region and would be the next after his nephew to face action by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview in Badal village in Lambi. The former deputy CM said: “Channi is the biggest sand mafia of the region, I have been saying this for long. He has siphoned off a couple of hundred crores from the government. It [ED raid and arrest of his nephew] is good and I think next will be Channi himself because he is the mother of everything.” READ FULL STORY
  6. THE DRUG MESS
    As you drive down the suburbs of Amritsar in Punjab, there are rehabilitation and de-addiction centres for treating depression and drug addiction. At one of the centres, young boys and men aged 15 to 30 years were being harangued on how to overcome addiction by Dr Bhatia, director of Hermitage De-Addiction Centre. Dr Bhatia tells News18, “I have seen for the last 15 years, nothing has changed, and cases of drug addiction have increased. This is also because the boys have no jobs and they get into depression.” News18 spoke to men, in the age group of 20 to 25, who stressed that the lack of employment opportunities have made many youngsters slip into addiction and then depression.  READ FULL STORY
  7. DAVID VS GOLIATH BATTLE IN BHADAUR
    Bhadaur seems like a classic David vs Goliath battle. Labh Singh is a mobile repair shop owner, who lives in a two-room house in a village and is fighting his first election. He says he moves around in Bhadaur on a motorcycle or a public bus for campaigning in the villages and tells CNN-News18 that Channi is a “dikhawe ke aam aadmi (a sham common man) as his son has a car worth Rs 2 crore”. The Congress in a surprise move announced Channi as the candidate from here, his second seat in the February 20 Punjab assembly election. The constituency is held by AAP and what makes the contest even more interesting is that the Congress has won this reserved seat only once in the last 50 years, in 2012. AAP won it in 2017. READ FULL STORY
  8. MANN FROM DHURI A STRONG PITCH IN MALWA
    By fielding its chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann from Punjab’s Dhuri constituency, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seems to be sending a strong message to voters by installing party heavyweights as nominees in the politically significant Malwa region. The Dhuri assembly segment falls under Mann’s Lok Sabha constituency Sangrur and had helped him garner the maximum number of votes in the 2019 general elections. Sangrur is divided into nine Vidhan Sabha segments of which three are reserved for Scheduled Caste category candidates. This has worked in the favour of Mann because of his popularity cutting across caste lines despite being a Jat Sikh himself. READ FULL STORY
  9. AT GROUND ZERO OF DALIT POLITICS
    At a small village near Jalandhar in Punjab’s Doaba region, which is separated from Malwa by river, an uncertain voter quips Charanjit Singh Channi as Congress’ Dalit chief ministerial face in Punjab is “good optics”. Manjit Singh from Alladinpur village says, “We have always been given an impression that we are kingmakers when it comes to forming a government but then we have never had a chief minister from our community. The announcement (of Channi) may sound political but nonetheless good for optics to begin with.” A day after the Congress’s announcement, at the ground zero of Dalit politics, there is cautious optimism. READ FULL STORY
  10. THE PATIALA PEG
    In the royal seat of Patiala and their home, either Captain Amarinder Singh or his wife have held sway as MLA for almost two decades now. Singh won in 2017 and 2012, polling nearly 70 per cent of the votes, and his major opponents lost their deposits. But this time Captain does not have the Congress hand supporting him. At the famous Fuvaara Chowk of Patiala, Aam Aadmi Party hoardings and flags are now competing with those of the Congress and billboards of Amarinder Singh’s new party on which images of Captain and Prime Minister Narendra Modi occupy prime space. At the nearby Congress office, party candidate Vishnu Sharma proclaims in an interview with CNN-News18: “This is not the seat of Captain, this is the seat of the Congress party.”  READ FULL STORY
  11. THE ‘TADKA’ FROM NAWANSHAHR
    Angad Singh, 31, is a hurt man. He was the big hope and the youngest MLA to enter the Punjab assembly in 2017 for the Congress from Nawanshahr. His parents have also been Congress legislators from the same seat in Punjab. But this time, in a shocking decision for him, Angad was denied a ticket by the Congress last week. He says it was because he refused to indulge in “mudslinging” as demanded by the party against his wife, Aditi Singh, who is now a BJP contestant from Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh. Aditi, a Congress MLA, on January 23 in an interview to News18 had challenged Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest against her. A week later, Angad’s name was missing from the Congress list for Punjab. He is now contesting as an independent candidate here. Angad says. “It’ll be a khichdi sarkar and tadka will be added to it from Nawanshahr." READ FULL STORY
  12. CHANNI’S BROTHER: THE INDEPENDENT FROM BASSI PATHANA
    Just opposite Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s house in Kharar is his younger brother Dr Manohar Singh’s. While Manohar bears a striking resemblance to his elder brother, he has decided to make his political debut as an independent from the Bassi Pathana assembly seat against the “official” Congress candidate. “He (Charanjit Singh Channi) tried to convince me (to not fight the election), but I convinced him that I need to go into the field and fight. So, he was convinced. I even convinced Congress leaders here. I think I have the winnability, that is the feedback we have,” Manohar told CNN-News18 in an interview at his residence. READ FULL STORY

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first published:February 08, 2022, 15:03 IST
last updated:February 08, 2022, 17:17 IST