Veterans are back

The sitting Congress MLAs will face one SAD and three BJP candidates on the four seats of holy city. Amritsar (South) will have an Akali candidate against the ruling party MLA. Both the BJP and the Congress have reposed faith in their old warhorses while the SAD (Badal) has given ticket to former Congress councillor, who had fought as a rebel candidate in the last Assembly election from Amritsar (South), say Sanjay Bumbroo and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar (Central)

Congress candidate Prof Darbari Lal
Congress candidate Prof Darbari Lal

Veteran of many electoral battles, Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, will again take on the firebrand social activist and state vice-president of the BJP, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla. Although the Congress has already announced the candidate, the BJP is yet to declare their candidate for the Amritsar (Central) which has the distinction of being the smallest constituency with only 68,500 votes. The voter in the constituency have declined since the last elections as more that 16,000 to 18,000 voters have migrated to the other parts of the city, especially in the Civil Lines area.

Prof Lal had won the elections by getting 24,860 votes against the BJPís candidate Chawla, securing 18,000 votes. Some rebel candidates in the Central constituency, including local Congress leader Arun Kumar Papal and former president of the Durgiana Managing Committee Surinder Arjun, who has emerged as a consensus candidate of the third front backed by Leftist parties, the Lok Bhalai Party and the Janata Dal (Secular). Mr Arjun is expecting that the BSP may also back him in the elections.

BJP candidate Laxmikanta Chawla
BJP candidate Laxmikanta Chawla

Prof Darbari Lal has been in the poll fray since 1977 and in the past 30 years of his political career he has won five elections, while Ms Chawla of the BJP had won twice.

He was baptised into the political arena with a fight against the then Jan Sangh candidate, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, in 1977 and in 1980 he fought against Mr Dev Dutt Sharma and later Mr Chawla and him have taken on each other five times and now his present election gives them another opportunity to call the electoral shots.

Amritsar (West)

Congress candidate Om Parkash Soni
Congress candidate Om Parkash Soni

The former Mayor and associate member of the Congress, Mr Om Parkash Soni, will try to achieve the hat trick of victories in this elections from the Amritsar (West) constituency with a voter strength of 2.31 lakh. It is one of the largest constituencies in the district. Earlier, it was a strong hold of the CPI. The BJP is yet to decide their candidate.

In the last elections, Mr Soni had received 45,331 votes against the CPI candidate, Mr Amarjit Singh Asal. Mr Soni secured 21,791 votes and the National Congress Party candidate, Capt Rajinder Singh, got 21,340 votes.

CPM, CPI, LBP candidate Amarjit Asal
CPM, CPI, LBP candidate Amarjit Asal

The CPI have already announced the candidature of Mr Asal, a popular labour leader of the area who claims to have a strong cadre.

During the Janata Party regime and the alliance politics in the state in the seventies and the early eighties, the Dangs, Sat Pal and Vimla Dang, have been ruling the roost in this predominantly labour constituency. Mr Soni may be involved in a triangular contest as the BJP has fielded Mr Rajindermohan Singh Chhinna, a Jat Sikh, and present honorary secretary of Khalsa College, which may prove to be a vital factor in the coming elections.

Amritsar (North)

The Amritsar (North) constituency with a large track of the Civil Lines area besides some parts of the walled city and the Batala Road area with more that 1.12 lakh votes has been the key hunting ground for the Congress. The Congress MLA, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, has once again in the fray for the second time to try his luck.

During the last elections, he trounced BJPís former Health Minister Baldev Raj Chawla by a margin of 15,000 votes. Dr Chawla is once again pressing the high command for the ticket but another name which has emerged in the race is that of Mr Anil Joshi a protťgť of Navjot Singh Sidhu, a former BJP MP from here.

Although Mr Sharma, who was also the Chairman of the Amritsar Improvement

Trust, claims that he will perform better this time as he has launched various development projects during his tenure.

This constituency has returned many Congress stalwarts, including Mr Brij Bhushan Mehra, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Pratap Chand Bhandari and Mr Fakir Chand Sharma. Dr Chawla had also won elections in 1997.

Amritsar (South)

Congress candidate Harjinder Singh Thekedar
Congress candidate Harjinder Singh Thekedar

The Amritsar (South) constituency, a predominantly Sikh area, has been returning some of the heavy weights in the political scenario, including Mr Kirpal Singh of the Janata Party, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, a former youth Congress leader, a former Secretary of the SGPC, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, and the present Congress incumbent, Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar. Mr Raminder Singh Bularia, a former Congressman who fought as an Independent candidate, switched allegiance to the SAD.

He is likely to give a tough fight to the Congress candidate. In the last elections held in 2002, Mr Thekedar had polled 23,322 votes against Mr Bularia 19,232, while the late Kripla Singh polled 17,000 votes.

SAD candidate Raminder Bularia
SAD candidate Raminder Bularia

The United Panthic Front has announced the candidature of Mr Pardeep Singh Walia of the SAD (Longowal). He is like to make a dent into the Akali vote bank.

The rebels in the Congress, who have been denied tickets in the favour of the sitting MLAs, may play spoilsport of the Congress. Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma faces the anger of supporters of Mr Joginder Pal Dhingra, District Congress president, and Ms Ratna, chairperson, Punjab State Social Welfare Board.Mr Soni, the Congress candidate from the West, has reasons to worry as Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, who also wields considerable influence in the area and may upset his vote calculations as they donít see eye to eye.

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PMís classmate fails to find name in voter list
Ashok Sethi

Former Chief Engineer and classmate of the Prime Minister, Mr Satinder Singh and his family failed to find their names in the voter list.

Mr Satinder Singh, in a letter to the Election Officer, has stated that he has made several rounds of the Deputy Commissionerís office and the Election Tehsildar but failed to get his name listed in the electoral rolls. He said his grievance had not ended here but the election identity card issued by the commission had changed the name of his daughter from Vamrita Singh to Vashhita. He said he had made many representations but failed to elicit any response.

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