New Delhi, January 21
The BJP on Friday released its first list of 35 candidates for elections to the 117-member Punjab Assembly, predicting a “surprising verdict” in its own favour and its allies. The BJP has stitched an alliance with Capt Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt). It will be contesting 65 seats.
General secretary Tarun Chugh said the party had given due representation to all sections and the first list included 12 candidates with farming background, nine from the Scheduled Castes, nine Dalits and several OBCs. Among those fielded are Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma (Pathankot), Manoranjan Kalia (Jalandhar Central), Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi (Ferozepur City), GS Tohra’s grandson Kanwarveer Singh Tohra (Amloh), Surjit Kumar Jiyani (Fazilka) and Tikshan Sood (Hoshiarpur). The list also includes two women candidates, Renu Kashyap and Nimisha Mehta, kabaddi player Ranjit Singh Khojewala and retired IAS officer SR Ladhar. Two-time MLA and former Congress leader Arvind Khanna will fight from Sangrur. The BJP has fielded both its sitting MLAs — Dinesh Singh Babbu from Sujanpur and Arun Narang from Abohar. Former BJP MLA KD Bhandari will contest from Jalandhar North.
It is not yet clear who will contest from Chamkaur Sahib against CM Channi, in Amritsar East against Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and in Dhuri against AAP’s Bhagwant Mann.
Punjab BJP in-charge Dushyant Gautam slammed the Congress Government over its “failure to resolve issues related to corruption, misgovernance, sacrilege, illegal sand mining and drug addiction,” also referring to the recent ED raids besides the PM’s “security breach”.
Union Minister Hardeep Puri too slammed Channi for “illegal sand mining in his constituency”. He urged “deep reflection” on the CM candidates of the Congress and APP. Without naming Mann, he said: “Doing ‘nasha’ is a personal choice…but there are videos, facts speak for themselves…I am not taking any moral position on drinking (alcohol)…If you like social drinking, you can…but in a sensitive state like Punjab, can you make a man with such an image your CM face?” he asked.
He referred to BJP’s earlier alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal as “bad marriage.”
Ticket for sitting MLAs
- BJP is in talks with Lok Insaaf Party, which has some influence in Ludhiana, sources said
- In 2017, the BJP contested 23 seats in alliance with SAD and won only three
- The party later lost the bypoll to one of the seats and now has two sitting MLAs — DS Babbu and Arun Narang
- Among the BJP candidates are 4 former Congress leaders and four former Akali leaders
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