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Hindus’ share in SAD list up
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Making a significant break from tradition in its electoral history after Independence, the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) has for the first time nominated seven Hindu candidates so far for the Punjab Assembly elections.

Three Hindu candidates figure in the fresh list of 24 announced here today by the SAD.

The SAD has announced the names of 88 candidates so far. The candidates for Anandpur Sahib, Faridkot, Baghapurana, Amloh, Jalalabad and Gurdaspur are yet to be announced. The SAD is expected to contest 94 seats and the remaining 23 will be contested by its alliance partner, the BJP.

Mr Parkash Chand Garg was today nominated as the candidate from Sangrur. It is the first time that the Sangrur seat has been given by the SAD to a Hindu candidate. Mr Garg has been associated with the SAD for several years and is considered close to the SAD secretary-general, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

From Bathinda, the SAD has nominated Mr Sarup Chand Singla. From the Bathinda constituency, the SAD has been nominating Hindu candidates for several years. Earlier, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg had been contesting as the SAD candidate from Bathinda. However, he has been ignored this time.

From the Kartarpur reserved seat, Mr Avinash Chander has been nominated as the party candidate. Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, had contested from this constituency last time.

In the earlier list, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda was nominated as the SAD candidate from Ludhiana (West), Mr Des Raj Dhugga from Gardhiwala, Mr Nand Lal from Balachaur and Mr Mohan Lal from Banga. Mr Garg, Mr Singla, Mr Dhanda and Mr Chander are new faces to be inducted as candidates. From Malerkotla, the SAD has nominated Mr Abdul Gaffar, a Muslim candidate.

Mr Pritam Singh Kumedan, an expert in Punjab affairs, says that “ it is the first time that the SAD has nominated so many non-Sikh candidates”. In its youth wing and party ranks, it has been inducting non-Sikhs for some time. The SAD President had announced some years ago that he would initiate the process of making the SAD all inclusive.

In the list announced today, Mr Jasjit Singh Bunny, son of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who will contest from Banur, has been nominated by the SAD from Kharar. Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa has been nominated from Khanna against Mrs Harbans Kaur, wife of the Punjab Congress president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal has been nominated from the Payal seat. Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, a former IAS officer, has been made the candidate from Talwandi Sabo.

Interestingly, the SAD has ignored two sitting MLAs. In place of Mr Nirmal Singh, who had won by a huge margin last time, Mr Hameer Singh Ghagga has been nominated as the candidate from the Shatrana seat. Mr Ghagga is considered close to Capt Kanwaljit Singh. And in place of Mr Jora Singh Bhagike, who had won by a big margin last time, the SAD has nominated Mr Jarnail Singh from Nihalsinghwala.

The other candidates are Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha (Nawanshahr); Mr Ajaib Singh Makhmailpur (Ghanaur); Mr Manjit Singh Mianwind (Khadoor Sahib), Mr Malkiat Singh (Jandiala); Mr Raghbir Singh (Kapurthala); Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik (Dakha); Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar (Muktsar); Mr Didar Singh Bhatti (Sirhind); Mr Gurdeep Singh Bhullar (Noormahal); Mr Bhag Singh Mallah (Jagraon); Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha (Valtoha); Mr Darshan Singh Kot Fatah (Pakka Kalan); Mr Raminder Singh Bularia (Amritsar South); and Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala ( Nakodar).

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