New Delhi: Punjab Sports Minister and former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh Powar Thursday beat anti-incumbency and defeated former ace striker Surinder Singh Sodhi of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Jalandhar Cantt constituency.
Sodhi, an AAP candidate who was contesting for the first time, lost to Pargat by a margin of nearly 6,000 votes, missing out on his party’s sweep across Punjab.
During campaigning, Pargat Singh had proclaimed he was the better among the two because he was the “trendsetter” and an “established politician”. Sodhi, meanwhile, said he was the perfect candidate to fight the former skipper.“Loha hi lohe ko kaat ta hai, toh kaat denge (Only iron can cut iron… so will cut it),” Sodhi had told ThePrint.
The AAP had definitively won 89 seats in Punjab as of 6.45 pm, leading in 3 others, while the Congress had bagged 17 and was leading in 1.
Clash of hockey icons
Pargat Singh and Sodhi were both key members of the Indian men’s hockey team during their respective careers.
While Pargat is often touted as one of the best defenders of all time, Sodhi played a key role in India’s gold medal win at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where he scored a record 15 goals.
Both of them are Arjuna awardees (India’s second-highest sporting honour after the Khel Ratna), and also recipients of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh award, conferred by the state of Punjab.
They are considered fierce competitors for reasons more than one. Not only are both former hockey stars, they also received education from the Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, and served in the state police before making a foray into politics.
Sodhi played on what he described as anti-incumbency in the constituency. Many shopkeepers, too, had told ThePrint that lack of development in the last decades had swayed their vote.
However, even though many on the ground appeared to be disgruntled by Pargat Singh Powar, they put their faith in the experienced politician, given his promises of developing the constituency in a planned manner.
Jalandhar city is expanding towards the cantonment, and Pargat Singh had made many infrastructural promises and showed off current projects on the campaign trail.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)