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SAD’s old guard finds place in 1st list of candidates for Punjab polls, turncoats rewarded too

The SAD Monday announced its first list of 64 candidates for 2022 Punjab assembly elections. SAD chief and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal will contest from Jalalabad seat.

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Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Monday announced its first list of 64 candidates for Punjab assembly elections to be held early next year.

In the first list, the party has largely banked on the old guard, including candidates who contested the 2017 elections. There are, however, a few fresh faces too.

SAD chief and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Lok Sabha member from Faridkot, will contest from his Jalalabad seat which he gave up after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Former cabinet minister Jathedar Tota Singh will contest from Dharamkot, while his son Makhan Barjinder Singh will contest from Moga.

The party is yet to announce the names of candidates who will contest from Lambi, the seat held by Sukhbir’s father and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and from Majitha, the seat held by Sukhbir’s brother-in-law and former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia.

This is for the first time that the party has announced names of more than half of its candidates months ahead of the polls. “We are a regional party and decisions are easily taken. There is no party high command sitting in Delhi to delay things. Also, because of Covid and the uncertainty it causes we have announced the seats so that candidates get enough time to campaign,” said Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, a senior party leader who is also on the first list.

Sources in the party, meanwhile, said the SAD’s decision to announce the first list of candidates also has to do with the farmers’ unions request to political parties to refrain from campaigning till dates are announced.

“This will help the candidates mobilise their supporters and workers at the ground level and work in smaller groups within the constituency before larger rallies can help,” a senior party leader told ThePrint.


Also read: AAP, Akali Dal leaders object to ‘unfair’ farmers’ appeal to put Punjab poll campaign on hold


BSP to contest on 20 seats

Of the 23 seats it shared with the BJP before quitting the NDA alliance last year, the SAD will file its candidates on at least a dozen seats. The BSP, which formed an alliance with SAD in June, will contest on 20 seats.

When the SAD had an alliance with the BJP, it contested on 94 seats, while the saffron party fought on 23 seats.

On the erstwhile BJP seats, veteran leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal will contest from Ludhiana West. Several fresh faces have also been included — Raj Kumar Gupta will contest from Sujanpur, Chandan Grewal from Jalandhar Central, Sarabjit Singh Saabi from Mukerian and Pritpal Singh Pali from Ludhiana central.

The party doesn’t expect any rebellion following the announcement. The only upset expected is on the Fatehgarh Sahib seat where Didar Singh Bhatti has been replaced with Jagdeep Singh Cheema, son of former cabinet minister Randhir Singh Cheema.

Another party veteran, Harish Rai Dhanda, will contest from the Atam Nagar seat, replacing Gurmeet Singh Kular, a businessman who had in July announced that he will not be contesting elections.

Turncoats rewarded

The party has also rewarded turncoats in its first list. Anil Joshi, who recently quit the BJP to join SAD, will contest from his old seat of Amritsar North. Hans Raj Josan, a former Congress leader, will contest from Fazilka. Former MLA Jagbir Singh Brar, who also left Congress to join the SAD, will contest from Jalandhar Cantonment.

Another former Congressman, Jagmeet Singh Brar, has been fielded from Maur in Bathinda, the seat that was earlier held by Janmeja Singh Sekhon, a cabinet minister in the Badal government. Sekhon will now contest from Zira.

Other cabinet ministers in the Badal government who have been given tickets include Daljit Singh Cheema, who will contest from his home seat Ropar; Sikander Singh Maluka from Rampura Phul; Sharanjit Singh Dhillon from Sahnewal; and Gulzar Singh Ranike from Attari (SC).


Also read: Amarinder’s 5 vs Sidhu’s 5 — the key players in Punjab Congress battle for supremacy


 

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