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Poll fever: Uma Bharti eyes Punjab
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Ms Uma Bharti is serious about the Punjab Assembly elections. She intends not only to stay put in the state but also wants senior leaders of her party to remain there for electioneering.

Though her political outfit, the Bharatiya Janshakti Party, has decided to contest 35 seats in Punjab, it still hopes for a poll alliance with the main Opposition party, the Shiromani Akali Dal.

“We will launch our election campaign with a major rally in Ludhiana on February 12 followed by a similar rally in Fazilka on January 17,” says Mr Pawan Valecha, president of the Punjab unit of the party.

The party wants Mr Sangh Priya Gautam (a former Union Minister in the NDA government), Mr Vishwanath (general secretary), Mr Prehlad Patel (also a former Minister in the NDA government),Mr Chander Parkash Sanghvi (a former Rajasthan Minister), Mr Raghunandan Sharma and Mr Pramod Mutalik to oversee the electioneering in six different zones in which it wants to field its candidates.

For the entire duration of the Assembly elections, these senior leaders will remain in Punjab. Ms Uma Bharti herself will stay in Punjab for a week or so.

The party intends to field its candidates from Ferozepore City and Cantt, Dharamkot, Abohar, Fazilka, Jalalabad, Balluana, Guru Harsahai, Hoshiarpur City, Dasuya, Mukerian, Garhshankar, Gurdaspur, Dinanagar, Kot Kapura, Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar, Kharar, Banur, Nangal and Ludhiana East, North, West and Rural.

“In the last Municipal Corporation elections, in the maiden attempt in electoral politics in this region, we did fairly well, getting about 10,000 votes in 14 wards we contested. Compared to us, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which contested 22 wards, got about 50,000 votes. So it has encouraged us and we hope to improve our position in Punjab,” adds Mr Valecha.

Though Ms Uma Bharti has been close to both Mr Om Prakash Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal and Mr Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal, she does not want to “embarrass them by opposing their alliance with her erstwhile party, the BJP. We will be happy if we have a strategic adjustment with the SAD,” says Mr Valecha.

He maintains that Ms Uma Bharti is keen on a foothold in Punjab politics. “She will travel extensively in the state,” adds Mr Valecha.

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