Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's close aide Sandeep Singh Sandhu is locked in a straight fight with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali from the Dakha assembly seat, going to bypolls on October 21. Eleven candidates are in the fray from Dakha, but the contest here appears to be between Congress high profile candidate Sandhu and SAD's Ayali. Ayali represented the constituency in the state assembly from 2012 to 2017. His party is seeking votes on the development done during his tenure. Dakha is part of the Ludhiana Lok Sabha Constituency, but in the last Lok Sabha election, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu of the Congress was trailing against Lok Insaaf Party's Simarjeet Singh Bains in this segment.
Ayali won the state assembly seat from here in 2012 by a huge margin of 16,388 votes, defeating his nearest rival Jasbir Singh Khangura of the Congress. Lok Insaaf party candidate Sukhdev Singh Chak and AAP candidate Amandeep Singh Mohi are also in the fray. The bypoll is being held due to the resignation of AAP MLA Harvinder Singh Phoolka who had secured 46,518 votes in 2017 from the constituency. The election campaign has reached a feverish pitch with allegations and counter-accusations flaring up. Both the Congress and the SAD are leaving no stone unturned to attract the electorate. SAD president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Akali stalwart Bikramjit Singh Majithia have already addressed dozens of rallies in favour of Ayali. From the Congress, apart from Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Jakhar, Cabinet Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, dozens of ministers and Congress MLAs have not only camped here but are also addressing rallies.
The Punjab chief minister also addressed an election rally in favour of Congress' Sandhu. Ayali said that even in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, won by the Congress-led UPA, Dakha had favoured SAD's Gurcharan Singh Galib over Manish Tewari of the Congress. Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann had also been seeking votes for the AAP candidate, but not even a single state-level leader of the Bharatiya Janta Party was seen so far participating in the campaign for its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal. Sandhu, who is still battling the tag of an outsider, urged the people of Dakha to give him also an opportunity to serve them. The election battle is becoming fierce day by day. What seemed a cakewalk for the Congress at an early stage now appears to be an uphill challenge.