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Verka’s attendance in Channi’s demonstrations helps the campaign

After suffering some blows recently when some Jalandhar deras loyal to the Valmiki/Mazhabi Sikh community began to oppose Congress candidate Charanjit S. Channi’s candidacy, the presence of Dr. Raj Kumar Verka, one of the party’s most well-known Valmiki leaders, at his rallies on Thursday helped to partially reverse his losses.

As a result of his inability to address the quota problem while serving as Punjab’s chief minister, Channi encountered strong resistance from the Valmiki/Mazhabi Sikh leaders inside the party.

Former Congress Jandiala MLA Sukhwinder Danny had also questioned Channi about why the Valmiki/Mazhabi Sikh community in Jalandhar should vote for him, given that he had not held them in the Supreme Court regarding the issue of 12.5 of the 25 percent total SC reservation that had been granted to them in 1975, during the government of Giani Zail Singh. Danny also brought up the fact that, in his capacity as Punjab’s chief minister, Channi did nothing to placate the Mazhabi Sikh group, which made up 31.6 percent of the province’s overall Sikh population and was by far the biggest SC minority.

Danny ceased bringing up the subject, and other Mazhabi Sikh leaders began using the same language—even mentioning the heads of Valmiki deras. On social media, the video bytes of these dera heads opposing Channi were also shared.

But after his all-day Channi campaign today, Dr. Verka said that the dispute over the Valmiki/Mazhabi Sikh samaj was now settled. “We have had discussions with leaders of Valmiki deras and influential members of the Sami Party, informing them that Paramjit Singh Kainth, the vice president of the BJP SC Morcha and head of the Chamar Maha Sabha, is actually handling the petition filed regarding reservation within reservation. As a BJP politician, Channi was essentially unable to assist with the matter, he said, adding that things were now nearly back on track.

Danny, who has been furious, has also been appointed as the party campaign committee’s co-chairperson. He has also been quite involved with the party’s campaign in the Lok Sabha seats of Ferozepur, Khadoor Sahib, and Amritsar. Former administrators Hussan Lal and SR Ladhar denied any involvement in the lawsuit against the 12.5% quota for the Valmiki/Mazhabi Sikh community, despite prior claims to the contrary.

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