Know Your Seat: Sahnewal

Multi-cornered fight in Sahnewal as new entrants in fray this time

Multi-cornered fight in Sahnewal as new entrants in fray this time

Photo for representational puropsoe only. - File photo

Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, January 19

Sahnewal has remained a citadel of Parkash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) since its inception in 2012. Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, 68, who remained Cabinet Minister from 2012 to 2017 and Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Ludhiana (2004-09) had won twice consecutively from this rural Assembly seat.

This constituency, which was part of Koom Kalan and Ludhiana (Rural) till 2007, before being carved out as an independent seat following the delimitation in 2009, had witnessed a triangular contest in 2017.

This time, it will be a multi-cornered contest with the entry of two farmers’ outfits — Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM), comprising 19 farm unions, including the one led by Balbir Singh Rajewal, and Sanyukt Sangharsh Party (SSP) formed by a Haryana farm leader Gurnam Singh Charuni, and a new-found alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) led by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and the former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress (PLC), during the high-stakes February 20 Assembly elections, which will be held in the backdrop of the recently suspended year-long stir against the three controversial farm laws.

While the SAD, which has Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as its new alliance partner, has taken a lead by re-nominating Dhillon, the principal Opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced a new face Hardeep Singh Mundian as its candidate from Sahnewal. The Congress is yet to declare its nominee while the two farmers’ outfits, who have also reached an alliance, and the BJP-PLC-SAD(S) alliance have also not yet come out with their choices from here.

Dhillon, who had also served as Youth Akali Dal president, besides heading several government-run corporation like Punjab Agro, Housefed, and Milkfed, was the lone SAD MLA to be elected in Ludhiana district in 2017. His party was able to add Dakha in the 2019 by-poll, necessitated by the resignation of then AAP MLA Harvinder Singh Phoolka.

Speaking with The Tribune, Dhillon said he was confident of his re-election on the basis of his work. “There is no contest this time and the people of my constituency are well aware of my 10-year service,” he asserted.

Mundian, who has switched over to the AAP few months ago after his stints in the Congress, the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), and also contested as an independent candidate in the past, said he was getting massive response from the people and was hopeful of his victory with a big margin.

On the Congress front, Punjabi singer-turned-politician Satwinder Kaur Bitti, 51, who was runner-up in the 2017 Assembly polls, was confident of her re-nomination while Raja Gill (son of former Congress minister Karam Singh Gill), Ravneet Gill (son of Udhey Raj Singh Gill, who had switched over from SAD to Congress eight years ago), Vikram Singh Bajwa (son-in-law of Congress stalwart Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who had lost from here in 2012), Lucky Sandhu (Ludhiana (Rural) Youth Congress president), and Yograj Singh (actor and former cricketer) were also among the main contenders for the ruling party’s ticket from Sahnewal this time.

In 2017, Dhillon got re-elected by defeating Bitti by a margin of 4,551 votes. He had polled 63,184, constituting 38.07 per cent of the total polled votes, while Bitti had got 58,633 votes, accounting for 35.33 per cent vote share. The AAP’s Harjot Singh Bains had finished third with 39,570 votes, constituting 23.84 per cent vote share. However, all other eight candidates, including that of the BSP, had lost their security deposits, while 1,510 voters, comprising 0.91 per cent of the total votes polled, had opted for “none of the above” (NOTA).

In 2012, Dhillon had won the seat by trouncing Vikram Singh Bajwa by a margin of 21,216 votes. He had polled 71,583 votes, constituting 53.44 per cent vote share, against 50,367 votes, accounting for 37.6 per cent of the total polled votes secured by Bajwa. Then also, all other 11 nominees, including BSP’s Labh Singh, had lost their security deposits.

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