After my candidature was announced for the Amritsar Parliamentary constituency, I reached Amritsar on the morning of 18th March 2014. I have been extremely familiar with the city ever since my childhood. The city was home of my maternal grandparents and the family. My mother was born there. I spent some part of my childhood school vacations along with my mother at Amritsar. Family weddings were subsequently the occasion to visit the city. No visit was complete without paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Temple.For the last two decades my political responsibility took me to Amritsar frequently. As in-charge of Punjab BJP, I used to headquarter myself at Amritsar during the elections to the State assembly. This time there was a difference,-my first visit to the city after announcement of my candidature.
A very large number of political leaders and workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP had arrived at the airport. A truck was converted into a moving platform with several political leaders. The electoral culture of Punjab is a league of its own. From drum beats to the Bhangra and showering of rose petals were expressions of welcome and joy. There are nine assembly segments in Amritsar parliamentary constituency. Within each Assembly segment receptions had been organized at various places. Senior Akali Dal minister Bikram Singh Majithia and BJP’s Kamal Sharma and Anil Joshi were in complete control. The route of the convoy was so organized as to pass through all the nine assembly segments. Gas balloons were loaded at places. Crackers were being burnt. A freak accident took place when the fire of a cracker touched the gas balloons. It created panic and minor injuries to some participants. I suffered a minor burn sensation but there was no significant damage.
The prime destination was the Golden Temple where we went to pay our obeisance. The majesty of the Golden Temple and the manner of its management adds to the environment of religiosity and emotion. Thousands of devotees were involved in rendering service. The Langar (lunch) was simple but delicious. After praying at the Temple, we left close by for the Jallianwala Bagh.
The Jallianwala Bagh is a memorial of the 1919 massacre of the then regime. There are still a large number of families who are descendants of the victim who lived close by. Many had come there to meet me and submit a copy of their memorandum of expectations. During the course of the day, I visited the Durgiana Temple which is styled in architecture similar to the Golden Temple. The Ram Tirath, a temple of Bhagwan Balmiki exists at a little distance from the city. I visited Ram Tirath temple in the evening. The devotees there were extremely grateful to the Chief Minister Shri Parkash Singh Badal for having sanctioned adequate funds for a grand temple to be built in the midst of a pond. After meetings with different groups of political supporters in relation to electoral process, I met all the elected representatives of the two NDA parties. Elected representatives of the municipal bodies and Panchayats were all there.
Amritsar itself is a city with buoyancy. Its manufacturing had suffered but the trade has picked up. The city is looking forward to the opening of Indo-Pak trade which will make it a hub of border trading. Tourism has picked up in a big way, thanks to the historical and cultural importance of the city. Hotels are doing well. The international flights to the airport need to be increased. The city’s infrastructure has improved over the years and a lot more needs to be done.
The USP of the city still remains its extraordinary food. I regard Amritsar as the Food Capital of India. Having been brought up in Amritsar culture by my mother with language accent, attitude and eating habits of the same tradition, I realised that I had gone back to my roots.