ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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North: After the Rout Amarjit Chandan THE complete rout in the recent Lok Sabha poll of the so-called left democratic front comprising the CPI, CPI(M), Lok Dal and communal forces like Janata and Akan Dal was not perhaps anticipated even by the leaders of these incohesive and divided political parties. An unknown Akali candidate, whose only qualification is that he is .the son of the late Mohan Singh Tur, defeated G S Dhillon, former Lok Sabha Speaker, by a narrow margin, mainly by because of the CPI(M) mobilisation, hectic campaign by Sant Longowal and open hostility of the Kairon family to the Congress (I) candidate. All the other 12 seats were grabbed by the Con- gress(I). The CPI(M) which had one seat (Phillaur Reserved), thanks to the Janata in 1977, lost it to the Congress (I). A student leader of the CPI who contested from Bhatinda also lost because of the infighting in Akali Dal and shrewd tactics of the CFI(M). The CPI's share of vote went up from 15 per cent to 19 per cent in Bhatinda; but the CPI (M)'s share of vote shrank from 4.95 per cent to 2.74 per cent in Phillaur. The Akalis were put to the worst-ever rout in the Malwa region (which, paradoxically, is also known as the red belt); among the losers was Surjit Singh Barnala, former Union Agriculture Minister. The Janata could not win in any assembly segment of three parliament constituencies in Punjab and it could get a lead in only 13 out of 46 assembly segments in Haryana, The role of the two parliamentary communist parties has been most opportunistic. The CPI(M) leader, Sardar Harkishan Singh Surjit, a known mentor of Parkash Singh Badal and Devi Lal, had categorically stated in October last that if the Akalis opted for an adjustment with the 'communalist Janata' his party would have no truck with the Akalis, But only two months later, Harkishan Singh was trying to persuade (in vain) Jagdev Singh Talwandi to leave the Amritsar and Gurdaspur seats to the Janata. Later the pro-Janata Badal- Longowal line prevailed in the Akali Dal and as per the directive of the 7-member panel headed by Sant Longowal and appointed by the 'Supreme temporal authority of the Holy Akal Takhat', three seats (Amritsar, Gurdas pur and Jullundur) were left to the Janata to win urban mercantile Hindu votes. The panel also directed the Akalis to give whole-hearted support to the CPI (M) candidate from Phillaur. The grateful CPI (M) reciprocated by supporting the Akali candidates at Sangrur, Patiala, Ropar, Faridkot, Ludhiana and Tarn Taran. The CPI was left in the lurch at Bhatinda and directed its sympathisers to vote 'independently', especially at Amritsar, where the CPI cadres canvassed for the Congress (I) candidates. Congress(I) was able to secure a lead of over 29,000 votes in Chhehrata segment which is a stronghold of the CPI leader Satya Pal Dang, a protagonist of left unity. In Jullundur the Talwandi group worked hard for the Congress(I) to thwart the victory of Badal's Janata candidate Sarup Singh. Talwandi himself was seen addressing public meetings from the same platform as Badal because Akali Dal's political survival was at its stake.

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