The decision of the Shiromani Akali Dal to field Bikramjit Singh Majithia against his arch foe and Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu in the Amritsar (East) assembly constituency has electrified the election campaign in the state.
While Majithia will contest from the Amritsar (East) constituency, he is playing it safe also contesting from his pocket borough Majitha in the assembly election. Majithia is the brother-in-law of Sukhbir Singh Badal and there is no dearth of resources at his command for fighting the poll campaign.
The rivalry between Sidhu and the 45-year-old Majithia seems to go beyond politics as the personal animosity between the two young leaders surfaces very frequently. Apart from issuing public statements against each other, the duo have engaged in wordy duels on the floor of the Punjab assembly.
Sidhu has been accusing Majithia of being neck-deep in the drug trade and has openly been stating that he should be put behind bars for life.
Sidhu has been criticising even the Congress governments in the state for not taking action against Majithia in the drugs case and dragging its feet over the investigation report. It is only recently that an FIR was registered against Majithia under the stringent Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Majithia faces arrest and custodial interrogation if he fails to get anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court which is now hearing his case. Punjab and Haryana High Court has already rejected his bail application.
The charge of the Akali Dal against Sidhu that a false FIR has been registered against Majithia has been rejected by the court of the Sessions Judge and even the High Court has found the FIR to be without any discrepancies.
Sidhu has also accused Majithia of patronizing the sand mining mafia and the liquor mafia. He has been alleging that the drug money was being invested in the mining business through proxies.
On the other hand, Majithia has been terming Sidhu a joker who lies to people to get cheap publicity. "Sidhu is a turncoat. He first sang paeans in favour of the BJP and made fun of Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Rahul Gandhi but now he praises them," Majithia retorts. Sidhu had earlier quit the BJP to join the Congress.
Majithia in his fight to defeat Sidhu is being helped by Sidhu’s opponents in all other parties including the Congress. The contest in Amritsar (East) will be multi-cornered with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) fielding their candidates.
Both Sidhu and Majithia have never lost an election from their constituencies. Sidhu contested three parliamentary elections and one Assembly election while Majithia has fought Assembly elections four times.
Both the young politicians do not let go of any opportunity of firing salvos at each other at any press meet organised them. The newsmen too find their story incomplete if they don't ask questions making both the leaders speak against each other.
Sidhu is in the race for Chief Minister's post if Congress wins a majority. Majithia fears that there will be more trouble for him and the Akali Dal if Sidhu becomes CM. Pending corruption cases might be reopened going by the tough stand that Sidhu has taken on the issue.
Consequently, Majithia is going all out to defeat Sidhu in what is a battle for survival for the young Akali leader.