Amritsar, January 17
It won’t be a cakewalk for the Congress to repeat its 2017 feat. The grand old party had won 10 out of 11 seats in the holy city, which is likely to have a four-cornered contest this time as SAD had parted ways with its old alliance partner — BJP.
As far as the urban seats — Amritsar East, Amritsar West, Amritsar North, Amritsar South and Amritsar Central — are concerned, a couple of these could witness a close contest in the upcoming Assembly poll.
With elections being just round the corner, the poll scenario is slowly gaining heat. Nevertheless, voters are this time silent and therefore, it was yet not clear in which direction the wind is flowing. All five urban seats had previously gone in the Congress’s pocket.
Three major parties — Congress, SAD-BSP and AAP — have declared the names of their candidates, but BJP, which joined hands with former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt), was yet to open its cards.
AAP which has remained third during the last Assembly poll has gained some ground among the public. The BJP and its alliance partners till now has failed to declare their candidates.
Five urban constituencies likely to have four-cornered contest as SAD had parted ways with old alliance partner — BJP
Currently represented by Congress candidate Sunil Datti, this particular constituency is being keenly watched upon. SAD has fielded former Cabinet minister and two-time MLA Anil Joshi after he joined the party following his expulsion from the BJP over farmers’ protest. He remained Local Bodies Minister besides holding the portfolio of Medical Education and Research Minister. A majority of development works in the area were carried out during his tenure as a minister and therefore he has a strong support base. AAP has fielded former IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh from here. He is known as an honest man and his popularity among the masses will be a major factor during polling. Datti would also be facing some infighting from other ticket aspirants, including Mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu, who had unsuccessfully contested against Joshi from here. BJP and its alliance partners are yet to announce any candidate.
Like Amritsar North, Amritsar South constituency is likely to have a close contest. It is currently being represented by Congress Inderbir Singh Bolaria. With three terms as an MLA from here, he is still considered a strong candidate. Against him is SAD’s Talbir Singh Gill, a close aide of former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Gill has been active in the constituency for quite a long time now and is giving a tough fight to him. He was seen holding demonstrations with people of the constituency over different issues especially police atrocities in the area. Last time, SAD had fielded Gurpartap Singh Tikka, district SAD president, who had remained third. AAP candidate Dr Inderbir Singh Nijjar had remained second with 26.7 per cent votes. AAP has reposed faith in him again.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu represents the constituency. There seems no face with other political parties who could give a fight to him. Before him, his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu represented the constituency in 2012. In the present scenario, it seems a cakewalk for the Congress from here. Nevertheless, the SAD and BJP are yet to announce names of their candidates. There are rumours of SAD fielding senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia from this constituency, though SAD leadership denied the same. AAP has fielded its district president Jeevanjot Kaur from here.
This strongly remained a Congress party constituency. Currently, it is being represented by Raj Kumar Verka, who successfully contested from this seat twice in 2012 and 2017. Before him, Deputy Chief Minister Om Parkash Soni won in 2007 as a Congress candidate. Earlier, as per arrangement between SAD and the BJP, BJP’s candidate had contested from here. After parting ways, SAD has fielded Dalbir Singh Verka from here this time. Dalbir Verka had unsuccessfully contested from Jandiala constituency in 2017. He had won in 2007 from Verka Assembly seat, which was later rechristened as Amritsar East and given to BJP as per the arrangement. AAP’s Dr Jasbir Singh is contesting for the first time.
Represented by Deputy Chief Minister and five-time MLA Om Parkash Soni, this seat also seems to be an easy seat for the Congress. Soni won the seat twice since his candidature from here after Amritsar West constituency which he represented earlier was declared a reserved constituency. Earlier, Soni had won from Amritsar West three times, once on Congress ticket and twice as an Independent. He has strong support base and manages a good hold here. BJP’s national secretary Tarun Chugh had unsuccessfully contested against him. While BJP was yet to declare its candidate, SAD has given the seat to its alliance partner BSP. Former councillor Dalbir Kaur is contesting from the BSP, while AAP has reposed faith in its previous candidate Dr Ajay Gupta. Dalbir Kaur is the mother of notorious gangster-turned-‘priest’ Bhupinder Singh, alias Sonu Kangla, who has been facing trial in many criminal cases.
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