SAD to contest Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat on party symbol for first time since 1996 : The Tribune India

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SAD to contest Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat on party symbol for first time since 1996

The SAD has placed its bet on party's senior vice president and veteran leader Daljit Singh Cheema from the seat

SAD to contest Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat on party symbol for first time since 1996

SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema. File photo



PTI

Chandigarh, April 28

After snapping ties with the BJP, the Akali Dal is all set to contest the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat on party symbol ‘takdi’ or scales for the first time since 1996 as it braces for a showdown with its former ally which has used star power to clinch the seat on numerous occasions.

The Shiromani Akali Dal had joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1996. As part of the seat-sharing arrangement for the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of Punjab, the BJP used to contest from Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur.

The SAD walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in 2020 over the now-repealed farm laws.

The SAD walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in 2020 over the now-repealed farm laws.

The Sukhbir Singh Badal-led SAD has placed its bet on the party's senior vice president and veteran leader Daljit Singh Cheema from the seat.

“The SAD workers are enthusiastic over the party fielding its own candidate from Gurdaspur and are happy to see the party symbol 'takdi'. There is an emotional attachment with the symbol,” Cheema told PTI.

Cheema, an MBBS doctor, said the SAD had last contested from Gurdaspur in the 1996 general elections and party nominee Jagdish Singh Walia came second.

Rubbishing BJP's charge that he was an “outsider”, Cheema said he was born in Mari Buchian village in Sri Hargobindpur and studied in the village school. He said he contested his first election in 2002 from the Sri Hargobindpur assembly seat in Gurdaspur.

The BJP has managed to keep the seat in its kitty by fielding Bollywood stars like Vinod Khanna and Sunny Deol from the seat.

However, this time around, it has named local leader and former MLA Dinesh Singh Babbu as its candidate -- a move 62-year-old Cheema attributed to the “negativity” that the BJP was facing.

The BJP had announced on March 26 that it would go solo in the general elections in Punjab. The party named Babbu in its eight list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls on March 30.

The BJP has been facing “negativity” in the constituency where it has been fielding movie actors. The party has been dependent on film actors as it “failed” to find suitable local candidates, Cheema said.

“The BJP had been bringing candidates from outside and it was the SAD that ensured their victory,” he said, referring to the erstwhile alliance with the BJP.

The Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat used to be a Congress bastion before the BJP brought in Bollywood star Khanna and fielded him from the constituency in 1998.

Khanna defeated five-time Congress MP Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder and won again in 1999, 2004 and 2014. Khanna lost the seat in 2009 to Congress candidate Partap Singh Bajwa.

Following Khanna's death in 2017, Congress' Sunil Jakhar won the 2017 bypoll. In the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the BJP fielded Deol who won the seat.

Taking a jibe at Deol over his “absence” from the constituency, Cheema said ‘gumshuda' or missing posters had come up against the actor-turned-politician in the constituency.

On the campaign trail, Babbu has been facing the anger of farmers protesting against the BJP-led central government for not allowing agitators enter Delhi and its failure to give a legal guarantee for MSP among other issues.

A group of farmers showed black flags to Babbu on Saturday while he was campaigning in Gurdaspur. He also faced the farmers' wrath in Batala on April 21.

#BJP #Daljit Singh Cheema #Gurdaspur #Lok Sabha #Shiromani Akali Dal


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