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Posted at: Jan 14, 2019, 7:10 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2019, 7:10 AM (IST)LS POLL

Picking Jalandhar candidate a daunting task for Akali Dal

Party has won seat only twice in 16 polls

Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 13

The Shiromani Akali Dal will face a Herculean task to find a suitable face for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat this time.

The constituency is a Congress stronghold. The SAD, which has won only twice from this seat in the last 16 elections, has been experimenting by changing its candidate from the seat each time, but losing dismally.

While it fielded former PM’s son Naresh Kumar Gujral in 2004, it projected Sufi singer and Valmiki leader Hans Raj Hans in 2009, when the seat got reserved. In 2014, the Akali Dal picked its MLA and Ravidassia leader Pawan Tinu. While Gujral had lost to Congress’ Rana Gurjeet Singh by 33,464 votes, Hans got defeated by 36,445 votes against MS Kaypee. Even in 2019, when the NDA won triumphantly, Tinu got trounced with 70,989 votes from Chaudhary Santokh Singh.

Now when the SAD is lying politically low in the state, no sitting SC MLA in Doaba is ready to contest the Lok Sabha polls, be it Tinu from Adampur, Baldev Khaira from Phillaur or Sukhwinder Sukhi from Banga. As of now, the names of a few leaders are doing the rounds, including former Speaker Charanjit Atwal, his son Inder Iqbal Atwal and former minister Sohan Singh Thandal.

Since Atwals are Valmikis and Jalandhar is dominated by Ravidassias, there can be a problem for consensus on their name. The proposed seat swapping between the SAD and the BJP for Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur also seems quite unlikely. Former BJP state president Vijay Sampla yesterday said: “There will be no seat swapping. I will be re-contesting from Hoshiarpur.”

The Congress is likely to repeat its candidate Chaudhary Santokh Singh from Jalandhar, although sitting MLA Sushil Rinku too is said to be a claimant. The party, however, is delving on choosing between former MP Santosh Chaudhary and sitting MP Raj Kumar Chabbewal from Hoshiarpur. Sampla had won the seat with a margin of 13,582 against former Jalandhar MP MS Kaypee. Having lost elections thrice, he could face a denial this time. Party sources, however, shared that he had been lobbying hard.

AAP has already declared its Doaba president Dr Ravjot Singh as candidate from Hoshiarpur. BSP is seeking three seats from the proposed Punjab Democratic Alliance, including Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.

No sitting SC MLA ready to contest

  • The constituency is a Congress stronghold and the SAD has been experimenting by changing its candidate from the seat each time, but losing dismally
  • Now when the SAD is lying politically low in the state, no sitting SC MLA in Doaba is ready to contest the Lok Sabha polls, be it Tinu from Adampur, Baldev Khaira from Phillaur or Sukhwinder Sukhi from Banga
  • The Congress is likely to repeat its candidate Chaudhary Santokh Singh from Jalandhar, although sitting MLA Sushil Rinku too is said to be a claimant

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